Murray Hill Distributing Reservoir, Manhattan

In the heart of Midtown the New York Public Library’s main branch is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Prior to its construction in 1900 the  Murray Hill Distributing Reservoir stood on the site of the library. For 19th century New Yorkers the Egyptian Revival walls of the reservoir also appeared in contemporary guidebooks, attracting tourist crowds.

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Between 1842 and 1900, the four-acre reservoir held 20 million gallons of water for the growing island metropolis. Its previous sources at Collect Pond and various springs across town were running dry and becoming polluted from urbanization. Water contained at Murray Hill originated from Croton Reservoir in Westchester County.

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Sunfish Pond, Manhattan

In the Manhattan neighborhood of Murray Hill, prewar office buildings share the blocks with brownstone residences and churches. Park Avenue South runs through this old neighborhood, offering no hints of a stream and pond that once lay at the intersection of Park Avenue South and East 31st Street.

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Here was Sunfish Pond, depicted above in Kenneth Holcomb Dunshee’s 1952 publication As You Pass By. Continue reading