American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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The Croton Aqueduct

(Old) Croton Aqueduct,
John B. Jervis (1795-1885)
(Old) Croton Aqueduct,

New York Engineering drawing, ca. 1837
Ink and watercolor on paper
Prints & Photographs Division

Gift of the Linda Hall Library, 1995 (123.6a,b)
( November 21, 2002 )


Tens of thousands of technical drawings such as this one were necessary to create the great water and transportation systems that were both a part of and spurred the rapid growth of nineteenth- century America. The old Croton aqueduct, completed in 1842 under the direction of civil engineer John Jervis, provided New York City with its first dependable source of drinking water. Without the aqueduct, the city could never have grown as it did. The aqueduct ran a thirty-two mile downhill course from the Croton Reservoir in Westchester County to High Bridge, across the Harlem River, and from there to a great receiving reservoir on the current site of the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue and a great public fountain in front of City Hall, between lower Broadway and Park Row.

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