If you want to delve further into the history of the Old Croton Aqueduct, which lies just below the trail that winds through these river towns, head to a new exhibit that opened recently at the Keeper’s House Visitor Center on the trail in Dobbs Ferry.
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Because the Old Croton Aqueduct was powered by gravity alone, the Aqueduct and the trail above it do not follow a straight line. Instead, to maintain the average 13.25-inches–per–mile downward slope of the tunnel on its journey from the Croton Reservoir, its path follows the ridges formed by ancient glaciers. Armed by the early and forceful exercise of eminent domain, New York City constructed its tunnel through public and private property in a single-minded quest to meet citizens’ urgent need for clean, abundant water.
Middle School 15 is 2 blocks from Aqueduct Avenue in The Bronx. Teachers Shawanda Weems, along with co-teacher Mr. Mozoub, discovered The Friends Of The Old Croton Aqueduct 4 years ago; ever since they’ve brought their summer class to Washington Heights.
This year her kids crossed the High Bridge to learn the history of the rooftop water towers, and the Old Croton Aqueduct. They stepped on Rucker Park’s basketball court, toured Morris Jumel Mansion and Sugar Hill Museum Of Art & Storytelling, and paid respects at Mayor Ed Koch’s and John J Audubon’s graves.
On July 13, excited neighbors, youth groups, “parkies,” and city and state officials attended a groundbreaking for the NYC Parks Department’s $10 million project to renovate Adventure and Sunken playgrounds in Manhattan’s Highbridge Park. Adventure Playground is where the paved path to the Manhattan end of the High Bridge begins; adjacent Sunken Playground provides ADA-compatible access to that path.
As co-head of Walks & Tours for the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct and a docent at the Keeper’s House Visitor Center in Dobbs Ferry, I am frequently asked the same question: What would be a good walk or tour along the 26-mile trail that runs through these Rivertowns (the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park)? Or perhaps along the 15-mile New York City route, which ends at the main New York Public Library (former site of the Murray Hill Distributing Reservoir)?
On this joint walk with the Lenoir Nature Preserve’s Curator, Sara Cavanaugh, along the Old Croton Aqueduct met at the Lenoir Nature Preserve, 19 Dudley St., Yonkers, and enjoyed an easy 6-mile loop walk along the Aqueduct Trail, with time spent in the Preserve and on the Trail, exploring history and nature.
Everyone has favorite spots on the Aqueduct trail, like Irvington’s Octagon House, or near the dam, or over Ossining’s Double Arch Bridge. But to a true wanderer, the Ossining section offers real variety. Take the Sing Sing Kill Greenway, a charming dash of watery nature right downtown.