The Simple Genius of NYC’s Water Supply System

Really well-made and informative video from Wendover Productions. I really love the section of the video that discusses Collect Pond, which was one of Manhattan’s original fresh water sources. The Tenement Museum also has a detailed article about the short heydey of Collect Pond as both a resource and a nature refuge for early New Yorkers here for those interested. Both the video and the article highlight how Manhattan’s commercial and population growth quickly pushed it away from the possibility of water-supply self-sufficiency and towards the Ashokan Reservoir and beyond.

As the city’s population grew, the government constructed the first reservoir downtown where Broadway and Pearl Street currently stand today. During the Revolutionary War, water from the reservoir and from Collect Pond, which was located in what is today Chinatown, was distributed to most of the city’s 22,000 residents through hollowed out logs. “Collect” originated from the Dutch word “Kolch,” meaning “small body of water.”


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