The 119th Street Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse was constructed in 1894-95 by contractor Peter J. Moran for the New York City Department of Public Works $40,000, under the supervision of George W. Birdsall, chief engineer of the Croton Aqueduct. The small but imposing one-story gatehouse (above) is constructed of rock-faced granite, with round-arched openings with voussoirs and a hipped slate shingle roof. It replaced an older gatehouse for the aqueduct that had been located in the middle of the roadbed of Tenth (Amsterdam) Avenue at West 119th Street on “Asylum Ridge” (so called because of the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum). These gatehouses functioned as the southern connection between the cast-iron inverted siphon pipes, laid beneath the nearly mile-wide Manhattan Valley to the north, and the masonry aqueduct that continued southward. By the 1890s, as the Morningside Heights neighborhood developed, the old gatehouse had become a traffic impediment and was replaced by the rrn existing one located on the east [ TI side of the avenue.
The Old Croton Aqueduct (1837-48, John B. Jervis, chief engineer), one of the first major municipal water systems in the United States, was New York City’s first significant supply of fresh water. It remained the city’s principal source of water until 1890, and supplied the city with water until 1955. The West 119th Street Gatehouse was in operation until 1990.
Photo credit: New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.