Collect Pond

Last updated
A 1798 watercolor of Collect Pond. Bayard's Mount, a 110-foot (34 m) hillock, is in the left foreground. Prior to being levelled around 1811 it was located near the current intersection of Mott and Grand Streets. New York City, which then extended to a stockade which ran approximately north-southeast from today's Chambers Street and Broadway, is visible beyond the southern shore. Collect Pond-Bayard Mount-NYC.jpg
A 1798 watercolor of Collect Pond. Bayard's Mount, a 110-foot (34 m) hillock, is in the left foreground. Prior to being levelled around 1811 it was located near the current intersection of Mott and Grand Streets. New York City, which then extended to a stockade which ran approximately north–southeast from today's Chambers Street and Broadway, is visible beyond the southern shore.

Collect Pond, or Fresh Water Pond, [1] was a body of fresh water in what is now Chinatown in Lower Manhattan, New York City. For the first two centuries of European settlement in Manhattan, it was the main New York City water supply system for the growing city. The former pond became the site of a jail and is now a city park, Collect Pond Park, which includes a pond evocative of its former status.

Contents

Pond description

The pond occupied approximately 48 acres (190,000 m2) and was as deep as 60 feet (18 m). [1] Fed by an underground spring, it was located in a valley, with Bayard Mount (at 110 feet or 34 metres, the tallest hill in lower Manhattan) to the northeast and Kalck Hoek (Dutch for Chalk Point, named for the numerous oyster shell middens left by the indigenous Native American inhabitants) to the west. A stream flowed north out of the pond and then west through a salt marsh (which, after being drained, became a meadow by the name of "Lispenard Meadows") to the Hudson River, while another stream issued from the southeastern part of the pond in an easterly direction to the East River.

The southwestern shore of Collect Pond was the site of a Native American settlement known as Werpoes. A small band of Munsee, the northernmost division of the Lenape, occupied the site. In 1542 the French established a fortified trading post on an island in the pond known as Fort d'Anormée Berge (Fort of the Grand Scarp). It is unclear when it was disestablished. [2] [3] The Munsee continued to live at Collect Pond until the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was established in the 17th century. It is possible that members of this band were the participants in the sale of Manhattan to the Dutch.

Collect Pond was used as a terms of boundary for night watch duties in 1731 under John Montgomerie's charter during the British rule in New York City. [4] The pond was home to a copious amount of fish, and in 1734 legislation was passed preventing the use of nets in the pond. This was prior to the extreme pollution to the pond, which included the dumping of dead animals.

18th century

Collect Pond and Five Points on the topographical map by Egbert Viele. The Five Points intersection is where Mosco Street (marked here as Park Street) intersected with Baxter Street (formerly Orange Street) and Worth Street (formerly Anthony Street). Viele Map Collect Pond Five Points.jpg
Collect Pond and Five Points on the topographical map by Egbert Viele. The Five Points intersection is where Mosco Street (marked here as Park Street) intersected with Baxter Street (formerly Orange Street) and Worth Street (formerly Anthony Street).

In the 18th century, the pond was used as a picnic area during summer and a skating rink during the winter. [5] Beginning in the early 18th century, various commercial enterprises were built along the shores of the pond in order to use the water. These businesses included Coulthards Brewery, Nicholas Bayard's slaughterhouse on Mulberry Street (which was nicknamed "Slaughterhouse Street"), [6] numerous tanneries on the southeastern shore, and the pottery works of German immigrants Johan Willem Crolius and Johan Remmey on Pot Bakers Hill on the south-southwestern shore. [7] By the late 18th century, the pond was considered "a very sink and common sewer". [1]

John Fitch's steamboat experiment

Fitch testing his steamboat on the Collect Pond. Testing steam propulsion on New York's Collect Pond.png
Fitch testing his steamboat on the Collect Pond.
John Fitch's steamboat experiment on Collect Pond. 1846 Broadside of the Collect Pond, New York and Steam Boat ( Five Points ) - Geographicus - CollectPond-hutchings-1846.jpg
John Fitch's steamboat experiment on Collect Pond.

Connecticut inventor John Fitch was an instrument maker working in the later part of the 18th century. As an early pioneer of steam navigation, Fitch tested several steamboats on the Delaware River between 1785 and 1788. Fitch’s real success, however, occurred in 1796 when he tested another ship equipped with a paddle wheel on Collect Pond. On the boat with him was fellow inventor Robert Fulton, Robert R. Livingston, who was the first Chancellor of New York and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and 16-year-old John Hutchings, steering. [8]

This was six years before Fulton and Livingston launched “Fulton’s Folly” on the Seine River in France. Hutchings claims to have been a “lad” at the time who “assisted Mr. Fitch in steering the boat”. In a broadside issued in 1846, Hutchings asserts that it was in fact Fitch who designed the steam propulsion mechanism. He claims that both Fulton and Livingston were present during Collect Pond tests and in fact depicts both, as well as Fitch and himself, in a paddlewheel steam ship in the upper left quadrant of the broadside. Though Fulton seems to have received most of the credit for the era of steam navigation, Hutchings hoped, through the publication of this broadside, to shed some light on Fitch’s contributions as well. A plaque at Collect Pond Park, however, states that though Fitch's account "is often repeated, no evidence has been found to substantiate the story."

Contamination and landfill

The contaminated wastewater of the businesses surrounding the pond flowed back into the pond, creating a severe pollution problem and environmental health hazard. Pierre Charles L'Enfant proposed cleaning the pond and making it a centerpiece of a recreational park, around which the residential areas of the city could grow. His proposal was rejected, and it was decided to fill in the pond. This was done with fill partially obtained from leveling Bayards Mount and Kalck Hoek. The landfill was completed in 1811, and middle class homes were soon built on the reclaimed land. [9] [1]

The landfill was poorly engineered. The buried vegetation began to release methane gas (a byproduct of decomposition) and the area, still in a natural depression, lacked adequate storm sewers. As a result, the ground gradually subsided. Houses shifted on their foundations, the unpaved streets were often buried in a foot of mud and mixed with human and animal excrement, and mosquitoes bred in the stagnant pools created by the poor drainage.

Several decades later, New York City obtained a new, plentiful supply of fresh water from the Croton Aqueduct. The neighborhood known as "Five Points", a notorious slum, developed near the former eastern bank of the Collect and owed its existence in some measure to the poor landfill job (completed in 1811) which created swampy, mosquito-ridden conditions on land that had originally had more well-to-do residents.

Most middle and upper class inhabitants fled the area, leaving the neighborhood open to poor immigrants that began arriving in the early 1820s. This influx reached a height in the 1840s, with large numbers of Irish Catholics fleeing the Great Famine. [10]

The Tombs

The original Tombs building in 1896 The Tombs, New York City.png
The original Tombs building in 1896

New York's jail, nicknamed "The Tombs", was built on Centre Street in 1838 on the site of the pond and was constructed on a huge platform of hemlock logs in an attempt to give it secure foundations. The design, by John Haviland, was based on an engraving of an ancient Egyptian mausoleum. The building was 253 feet (77 m) in length by 200 feet (61 m) wide and it occupied a full block, surrounded by Centre, Franklin, Elm (today's Lafayette), and Leonard Streets. It initially accommodated about 300 prisoners.

The prison building began to subside almost as soon as it was completed and was notorious for leaks in its lowest tier and for its general dampness. The original building was replaced in 1902 with a new one on the same site connected by a "Bridge of Sighs" to the Criminal Courts Building on the Franklin Street side. When the original Tombs building was condemned and demolished at the end of the century, large concrete caissons were emplaced to bedrock, as much as 140 feet below street level, in order to give its replacement more secure foundations. That building was replaced in 1941 by one across the street on the east side of Centre Street with the entrance at 125 White Street, officially named the Manhattan House of Detention, though still referred to popularly as "The Tombs".

Park conversion

Sign with the name of the park Collect Pond Park WTM sheila 0040.jpg
Sign with the name of the park
The granite foundation of The Tombs uncovered during reconstruction of Collect Pond Park in early 2012 Collect pond park-reconstruction.jpg
The granite foundation of The Tombs uncovered during reconstruction of Collect Pond Park in early 2012

In 1960, a portion of the former site of Collect Pond was given to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for conversion into a park. Originally, the park was named "Civil Court Park" because of its proximity to the surrounding courthouse buildings. However, the park was renamed "Collect Pond Park", its current name, to represent its history more accurately. The park is located on the block bordered by Lafayette Street, Leonard Street, Centre Street, and White Street. [11]

The park was closed for a total reconstruction. In 2012, reconstruction of the park uncovered the granite foundation of The Tombs, leading to a partial stop-work order pending archaeological investigation. The newly rebuilt park, reopened in May 2014, includes a pond evocative of the former Collect Pond.

It is still possible to ascertain the rough boundaries of Collect Pond and original topography in the elevations of the streets in the area, with the lowest elevation being Centre Street which runs in the approximate center of the former pond. [12]

Related Research Articles

East River Navigable tidal strait in New York City connecting New York Bay, the Harlem River, and the Long Island Sound

The East River is a salt water tidal estuary in New York City. The waterway, which is actually not a river despite its name, connects Upper New York Bay on its south end to Long Island Sound on its north end. It separates the borough of Queens on Long Island from the Bronx on the North American mainland, and also divides Manhattan from Queens and Brooklyn, which is also on Long Island. Because of its connection to Long Island Sound, it was once also known as the Sound River. The tidal strait changes its direction of flow frequently, and is subject to strong fluctuations in its current, which are accentuated by its narrowness and variety of depths. The waterway is navigable for its entire length of 16 miles (26 km), and was historically the center of maritime activities in the city.

Robert Fulton American engineer and inventor

Robert Fulton was an American engineer and inventor who is widely credited with developing the world's first commercially successful steamboat, the North River Steamboat. In 1807, that steamboat traveled on the Hudson River with passengers from New York City to Albany and back again, a round trip of 300 miles (480 km), in 62 hours. The success of his steamboat changed river traffic and trade on major American rivers.

Houston Street Street in Manhattan, New York

Houston Street is a major east-west thoroughfare in Lower Manhattan in New York City. It runs the full width of the island of Manhattan, from FDR Drive along the East River in the east to the West Side Highway along the Hudson River in the west. The street is divided into west and east sections by Broadway.

Five Points, Manhattan Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

Five Points was a 19th-century neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City. The neighborhood, partly built on land which had filled in the freshwater lake known as the Collect Pond, was generally defined as being bound by Centre Street to the west, the Bowery to the east, Canal Street to the north, and Park Row to the south. The Five Points gained international notoriety as a densely populated, disease-ridden, crime-infested slum that existed for over 70 years.

North River (Hudson River) Section of the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey

North River is an alternative name for the southernmost portion of the Hudson River in the vicinity of New York City and northeastern New Jersey in the United States. The entire watercourse was known as the North River by the Dutch in the early seventeenth century; the term fell out of general use for most of the river's 300+ mile course during the early 1900s. However the name remains in very limited use as an artifact among history-inclined local mariners and others and on some nautical charts and maps. The term is also used for infrastructure on and under the river, such as the North River piers, North River Tunnels, and the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Downtown Brooklyn Place in New York, United States

Downtown Brooklyn is the third largest central business district in New York City, United States, and is located in the northwestern section of the borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is known for its office and residential buildings, such as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower and the MetroTech Center office complex.

Pearl Street (Manhattan) Street in Manhattan, New York

Pearl Street is a street in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan, running northeast from Battery Park to the Brooklyn Bridge with an interruption at Fulton Street, where Pearl Street's alignment west of Fulton Street shifts one block south of its alignment east of Fulton Street, then turning west and terminating at Centre Street.

Exchange Place, Jersey City Neighborhood of Jersey City in New Jersey, United States

Exchange Place is a district of Downtown Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, that is sometimes referred to as "Wall Street West" due to the concentration of financial companies that have offices there. The namesake is a square, about 200 feet long, at the foot of Montgomery Street at the Hudson River. This square was created by landfilling the shore at Paulus Hook, and has been a major transportation hub since the colonial era.

Fulton Street (Manhattan) Street in Manhattan, New York

Fulton Street is a busy street located in Lower Manhattan in New York City. Located in the Financial District, a few blocks north of Wall Street, it runs from Church Street at the site of the World Trade Center to South Street, terminating in front of the South Street Seaport. The easternmost block is a pedestrian street. After the World Trade Center construction is completed, it will extend to West Street.

The Tombs Detention complex in Manhattan, New York

The Tombs is the colloquial name for the Manhattan Detention Complex, a municipal jail in Lower Manhattan at 125 White Street, and also the nickname for three previous city-run jails in the former Five Points neighborhood of lower Manhattan, an area now known as the Civic Center.

Civic Center, Manhattan Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

The Civic Center is the area and neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, Manhattan, New York City, that encompasses New York City Hall, One Police Plaza, the courthouses in Foley Square, the Metropolitan Correctional Center and the surrounding area. The district is bound on the west by Tribeca at Broadway, on the north by Chinatown at Worth Street or Bayard Street, on the east by the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge at South Street, and on the south by the Financial District at Ann Street.

South Street (Manhattan) Street in Manhattan, New York

South Street is a street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, located immediately adjacent to the East River. It runs from Whitehall Street near the southern tip of Manhattan to Jackson Street near the Williamsburg Bridge. The Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive, in an elevated portion known as the South Street Viaduct, runs along the entire length of the street.

Centre Street (Manhattan) Street in Manhattan, New York

Centre Street is a north–south street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, running through the Civic Center, Chinatown, and Little Italy neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan. It connects Park Row to the south with Spring Street to the north, where it merges with Lafayette Street. Centre Street carries northbound traffic north of Reade Street and two-way traffic between Reade Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.

<i>North River Steamboat</i>

The North River Steamboat or North River, colloquially known as the Clermont, is widely regarded as the world's first vessel to demonstrate the viability of using steam propulsion for commercial water transportation. Built in 1807, the North River Steamboat operated on the Hudson River – at that time often known as the North River – between New York City and Albany, New York. She was built by the wealthy investor and politician Robert Livingston and inventor and entrepreneur Robert Fulton (1765–1815).

Corbin Building Office building in Manhattan, New York

The Corbin Building is a historic office building at the northeast corner of John Street and Broadway in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City. It was built in 1888–1889 as a speculative development and was designed by Francis H. Kimball in the Romanesque Revival style with French Gothic detailing. The building was named for Austin Corbin, a president of the Long Island Rail Road who also founded several banks.

Bushwick Branch Long Island Rail Road freight branch in New York

The Bushwick Branch, also called the Bushwick Lead Track, is a freight railroad branch in New York City. It runs from Bushwick in Brooklyn to Fresh Pond Junction in Maspeth, Queens, where it connects with the Montauk Branch of the Long Island Rail Road. It is owned by the LIRR but operated under lease by the New York and Atlantic Railway, which took over LIRR freight operations in May 1997.

The Old Brewery

The Old Brewery was the name given to Coulthard's Brewery after which it was consolidated within the city limits as the neighborhood of the Five Points becoming a tenement rookery following the economic depression of the Panic of 1837.

Morse Building Residential skyscraper in Manhattan, New York

The Morse Building, also known as the Nassau–Beekman Building and 140 Nassau Street, is a residential building in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City, at the northeast corner of Nassau and Beekman Streets. The Morse Building, designed by Benjamin Silliman Jr. and James M. Farnsworth, contains elements of the Victorian Gothic, Neo-Grec, and Rundbogenstil style.

Bennett Building (New York City) Historic building in Manhattan, New York

The Bennett Building is a cast-iron building in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. The building is on the western side of Nassau Street, spanning the entire block from Fulton Street to Ann Street. While the Bennett Building contains a primary address of 93-99 Nassau Street, it also has entrances at 139 Fulton Street and 30 Ann Street.

Robert Fulton Cutting, was an American financier and philanthropist known as "the first citizen of New York." Cutting and his brother William started the sugar beet industry in the United States in 1888.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City . New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN   0300055366., p. 250.
  2. Weise, Arthur James (1884). The Discoveries of America to the year 1525. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  3. Early New York City forts at American Forts Network
  4. Richardson, James (1970). Encyclopedia of New York City. New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. "The Hudson: A History" Tom Lewis (2007).
  6. "Abattoirs.; History of New-York Slaughter-Houses-Interesting and Curious Data. (1866)". The New York Times .
  7. "Craftsmen In Clay" @ www.corzilius.org
  8. Scientific American, New Series, Volume 3, Issue 8, page 116. August 18, 1860
  9. Kieran, John. A Natural History of New York. p. 31. ISBN   978-0-8232-1086-2.
  10. Delaney, Tim. American Street Gangs. pp. 39, 290.
  11. Collect Pond Park, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Accessed October 8, 2007.
  12. Kadinsky, Sergey (2016). Hidden Waters of New York City: A History and Guide to 101 Forgotten Lakes, Ponds, Creeks, and Streams in the Five Boroughs. New York, NY: Countryman Press. pp. 1–9. ISBN   978-1-58157-566-8.

Coordinates: 40°42′59″N74°00′06″W / 40.71639°N 74.00167°W / 40.71639; -74.00167