The New Croton Dam in the Hudson Valley stores up to 19 billion gallons of water. The DEP is responsible for managing the water supply for New York City and 70 other communities. Follow Isabel Keane for breaking news in the Lower Hudson Valley. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And help support local journalism by following her on these social media platforms:
Water supply system for New York City
The New Croton Dam water supply system for the City of NYC was originally conceived by Major David Bates Douglass, a civil and military engineer who worked on the Old Aqueduct. He envisioned a masonry conduit and aqueduct that would rise the river by forty feet and flow down it at a rate of 13 inches per mile, producing 60 million gallons per day. His plans were based on the findings of an 1842 study by De Witt Clinton, Jr., who also facilitated the creation of the Croton Water Commission.
Construction of the High Bridge over the Harlem River began in 1841. Two 36-inch cast-iron pipes carried water into Manhattan, and in 1861, a ninety-inch pipe was added to the system. In addition to the High Bridge, this water supply system also connected to two reservoirs in Manhattan. The York Hill Reservoir had a capacity of 150 million gallons, while the Murray Hill Reservoir was located at the current site of the Great Lawn in Central Park and the New York Public Library.
The New Croton Dam is one of the most iconic examples of early modern American engineering. Its s-shaped spillway was designed to channel wastewater away from the reservoir while maximizing energy dissipation. It was completed in 1913, and created a reservoir that covers more than a hundred and sixty square miles (600 square km). The dam was built in the Hudson River Valley and submerged the old Croton Dam, which for a time left hundreds of people homeless.
The new Croton Dam was built largely by immigrant labor, and the majority of these men were Italian. Some were Irish and African-American. Most of these men lived in boarding houses in Croton Landing, and the contractors constructed an office, commissary, and clinic at the foot of the dam. The workers were so unhappy with the conditions at the dam that they threatened to blow it up. As a result, Westchester County sheriffs were brought in to protect the area. In addition, contractors requested military protection to protect their workers.
The New Croton Dam was built using migrant labor. Among the Italian immigrants were Irish and African Americans, and many of the men worked for the construction company in boarding houses in Croton Landing. Contractors erected an office, commissary, clinic, and engine house at the foot of the dam, as well as a dam-side lodging house. Most Italian workers wanted to return home, but the padrones ruled the worksite.
The New Croton Dam’s construction company began in 1905 and was finished on January 17, 1906. In 1948, the construction company gave the city of New York a set of trowels used during the project. The priest, Reverend Constantino Cassaneti, was the pastor of the chapel below the dam during the construction process. His generosity made the New Croton Dam construction the benchmark for gravity dams, and he donated the trowels to the city.
The New Croton Dam is part of the city’s water supply infrastructure. It’s surrounded by lush mountainous recreation area, making it popular for picnicking in summer and cross-country skiing in winter. The dam’s average daily discharge is around 33,000 cfs, which is a record for the reservoir. The dam is accessible from Croton Point Park and Croton Gorge Park.
Visitors to the dam can also enjoy the scenic views of the river from the Croton Gorge Park, located at the base of the dam. The park offers fishing, hiking, and picnicking opportunities, and is also the closest park to the historic Old Croton Aqueduct. For those who enjoy a scenic hike, the Croton Gorge Trail begins at the dam’s base and extends over the river, where the spillway is visible to the public.
Once completed, the New Croton Dam is the tallest in the world, holding 19 billion US gallons of water. Its unusual spillway is part natural and partly artificial. This unique spillway forms a waterfall on the north side of the structure. It is one of the few places in the world with a natural waterfall, so it’s great for water recreation! But the dam is not only an architectural marvel.