The Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park on the Brooklyn-Queens border:
The middle basin shown here is largely intact, the two outer basins were drained in 1989 and have returned to a natural state.
|Looking north with Empire State Bldg. in the background|
|The old path around the basin with remnants of the original fence|
|Inside the old gate house|
|1839 view looking South over the Reservoir|
|south from the path|
|overlooking the National Cemetery and the spires of Blessed Sacrament church|
|Aerial view from the Parks Dept. web site|
|19th century views [Brooklyn Museum Collection]|
"In 1898, Brooklyn merged with the City of Greater New York, thus gaining access to the superior New York City water supply system. Ridgewood Reservoir was expensive to operate because of the need for pumping and was slowly made obsolete by expansion of New York City's Catskill and Delaware water systems. Ridgewood Reservoir became a backup reservoir in 1959 with the third basin being filled with water from the Catskill system. The reservoir was last used in a drought in the 1960s. During the 1970s the reservoir was the site of illegal swimming and a number of drownings. The reservoir was finally decommissioned and drained in 1989.
Following decommissioning and abandonment, the reservoir naturally became a small birch forest (one of the few on Long Island) with a grassy marsh in the center basin. The creation of this virtual nature sanctuary attracted a wide variety of fauna, including some rare species of birds. The bicycling trail around the reservoir perimeter became part of the 40-mile (64 km) Brooklyn-Queens Greenway.
In 2004, the reservoir was officially turned over to the Department of Parks for more extensive integration into Highland Park. In October 2007, the Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe quietly unveiled a contract to breach one of the reservoir basins and clear 20 acres (81,000 m2) for new ball fields. However, on June 26, 2008, NYC City Controller William C. Thompson, Jr. rejected that contract for the new development, citing concerns about the environmental impact"
So far community activists have been able to block attempts to fill in and develop the reservoir -- for more information on their efforts: http://ridgewoodreservoir.blogspot.com/
all other photos copyright nycedges2010