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Atlas Obscura Ridgewood Reservoir

Until 1898, Brooklyn was a separate city from New York and tried to remain as independent as possible. That included where it got its water; while the City of New York had access to the excellent Croton Aqueduct, Brooklyn had to look elsewhere. The Bronx River was too hard to reach and streams on Long Island were insufficient, so instead the city turned inward, linking various Brooklyn streams and wells and sending the water to a newly built elevated reservoir located along the Brooklyn-Queens border.

The reservoir was constructed between 1856 and 1858 following concerns Brooklyn was losing a lot of business due to its lack of reliable water sources. Six streams in the area were dammed and the water “forced” uphill into the reservoir. A nearby street in Brooklyn is named Force Tube Avenue and this is also how Conduit Avenue in Queens gets its name. As the demand for water grew, the system expanded to draw from more waterways, some as far as 30 miles away.

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