Yesterday, the New York Post visited Silver Lake on Staten Island to report how its low water level is revealing decades-old debris lying on its bottom, such as discarded toys, a motorcycle, and old road signs. Formerly a natural lake in the Grymes Hill neighborhood, it was redesigned in 1917 to serve as a 56-acre reservoir. Unused since 1971, it is the centerpiece of Silver Lake Park.
In its natural state, the lake was the headwaters of the eastern branch of Clove Brook, which continued towards the smaller Valley Lake, then into Clove Lakes Park, and then north towards Port Richmond and Kill Van Kull. Portions of the brook have since been buried by the Silver Lake Golf Course and residential development.
Using pipes that were laid on the bottom of The Narrows, water from the Catskill aqueduct system flowed in from Brooklyn into Silver Lake and then distributed throughout the island. The shape of the lake resembles an expanded number eight with a dam across the lake’s midpoint to separate its two basins.
The recent discovery of an old motorcycle at the bottom of Silver Lake doesn’t come close to the September 15, 1878 discovery of human remains inside a barrel near the shore of Silver Lake.
Investigators found that the woman was bludgeoned to death and may have given birth while being killed. The body was identified as Stapleton resident Anna Reinhardt and her estranged husband Edward Reinhardt was charged and convicted for her murder. At the time of her death, he was also married to another woman, which made him a bigamist, highly unacceptable at the time.
Until his last moment of life, Mr. Reinhardt denied being the “Silver Lake Murderer,” as the local press branded him. He spent his last days in a prison cell smoking cigars and producing sculptures in the company of three cats. On January 14, 1881, Edward Reinhardt’s day of execution, taverns across Staten Island held celebrations and crowds jostled to receive a ticket to see him hanging. He was buried at Silver Mount Cemetery, within view of the lake.
Two months following the execution, undertaker Daniel Dempsey swore that he saw a ghost of Reinhardt standing by a barrel on Richmond Turnpike, the ancient cross-island road now known as Victory Boulevard.
The Reinhardt case is documented thoroughly in historian Patricia M. Salmon’s book “Murder and Mayhem on Staten Island,” which costs the same as my book.
When the lakes and ponds of New York City bring forth morbid mysteries, this is the stuff of my book.