Monday, July 16, 2007

Next time you walk by the New York Public Library..You can imagine that right at that spot was the Croton Reservoir.

The Croton Reservoir was a fixture of old New York for many years. The year 1842 marked what was perhaps one of the greatest forward strides in the city's history....It was ­the general introduction of running water...That must have been an amazing event!

When the reservoir was first completed it had a spacious promenade all around the top of the walls upon which many animated groups constantly gathered. It was the 19th century and the age of the promenade. Of course that is a wonderfully descriptive word for strolling.
It was one of the highest points to be in the city There you could see Long Island and the heights of the Palisades provided a fascinating panorama. It was certainly a delightful spot...

There are many stories of how wonderful it was to walk around the reservoir at night. One could enjoy the view and see the shimmering of the water in the moonlight..(remember this is old New York)... There was not too much light around in those days. It remained a popular attraction till it was decided in the 1890's to build a massive city library right were the much of the reservoir was standing.
The money had come from Samuel Tilden, who left over two million to build a new library for New York. I am not going into the history of building the library here. You can study that in many areas. But What I wanted to express is that hardly a soul knows about the Croton reservoir.

It was one one of the great attractions of New York. I can truly say it was replaced by a tremendously more important structure. So often great things are torn down and are replaced by something less than lovely. In this case it was well done.

So every time I am walking by the Library...My mind wanders off to the 19th century and I picture the massive structure that once stood there. In fact some of it still does. Some of the reservoirs foundations were used for the library!
It was a massive structure as you can see. The area you see here of the reservoir is where the park is behind the library. Where there is now a hidden library under the grass. Yes the library continues underground beneath the park, and that is where the major bulk of their collections lie.
One of the famous lions in front
The library when it was brand new.