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Ridgewood Reservoir

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Heart of the old Brooklyn water supply system, now part of Highland Park

Place Details

Borough : Queens
Neighborhood : Cypress Hills
Open Space, Play

Place Matters Profile

On The Web

NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Save Ridgewood Reservoir
Forgotten NY "Border Town, Ridgewood: Brooklyn or Queens?"


Seth Johnson

It's a little-known fact that Brooklyn had a water supply system before it joined New York City, and Ridgewood Reservoir was really the key point in that system. Without the water supply, which operated for nearly a century (beginning in 1858--the official opening was in April 1859, but the new system was first used to put out a fire in December 1858), Brooklyn would not have been able to flourish. Ridgewood Reservoir, sitting on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, used to be the main distributing reservoir for all of Brooklyn. It was built in 1857-9 and expanded in the 1890s, and until 1917 all of Brooklyn's water (with the exception of that provided by local, private water companies) went through it. Formerly landscaped and used for fashionable outings, it is now being overgrown, though you can still see the original stonework and some ironwork. It consists of three stone-lined basins, and you can still see at least one gatehouse (which used to control the flow of water). When I last looked, the basins were marshy, but they will still hold some water when it's wet enough, and the surrounding area was filled with trees. I like seeing the stones and iron, and it would really be a shame if the gatehouse were taken away. Also, the reservoir is on very high ground, so you get really excellent views to the south.

Jeffrey Kroessler

I want to nominate the Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park on the Brooklyn- Queens border. The three-basin reservoir was built by the city of Brooklyn before the Civil War, and held water until the mid-1980s. The sloping stone facing is intact, as is the gatehouse and some of the iron railings. It was recently transferred to the Parks Department.

Over the past thirty years, the basins have sprouted thousands of trees and settled into a small pond and wetland system. Birders have counted upwards of 140 species.

Very unfortunately, the Parks Department is proposing to turn the reservoirs into BALLFIELDS, with artificial turf, no less. Rather than ballfields, why not the Ridgewood Reservoir Bird Sanctuary and Ecology Center?

For images, go to Google, or (November 2007)

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