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Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

old croton aqueduct trail logo

The 1.1 mile Old Croton Aqueduct Trail covers the tunnel built during the 1830s and 40s in response to an inadequate water supply for a rapidly expanding New York City population which was suffering the hardships associated with lack of fresh water, such as epidemics and fires. Designed by engineer John B. Jervis, the aqueduct was an engineering marvel, extending 42 miles from the Croton Reservoir to Bryant Park. Its magnificent design featured a gradual pitch along the entire length, it required no pumps, with a flow of water that was entirely gravity fed, a design based on principles dating from Roman times. Builders had to maintain this steady grade through challenging terrain, cutting into hillsides, setting it level on the ground, tunneling through rock, and carrying it over valleys and streams on massive stone and earth embankments – even across bridges. The tunnel opened in 1842 and was used until 1897, when an adjacent tunnel replaced it.

The Old Croton Aqueduct Trail introduces park visitors to the area’s geology and some of the most unique forests in New York City, featuring majestic tulip trees, sugar maples, and American sycamores. When walking the trail, look for the telltale mound encasing the tunnel. In reading these physical “clues” along the trail, an understanding of how the tunnel engages the landscape deepens the trail experience. In 1974, the trail was placed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.