By Jon Cronin, Editor
After nearly two decades of community activism, the Ridgewood Reservoir is finally getting its due and has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The federal recognition was announced on Feb. 2. This week, advocates—including Steven Feidler, the Parks Committee chairman for Community Board 5, and Matt Malina, the executive director for nonprofit NYC H20 who wrote the Historic Register application for the reservoir—began spreading the news.
NYC H2O has been conducting ecology and engineering field trips at the reservoir for the past three years with approximately 3,000 students and interested parties.
The reservoir is an untouched 50-acre site in Highland Park on the border of Brooklyn and Queens. It was created in 1859 to serve as a water supply for Brooklyn’s growing population and was instrumental in Brooklyn’s consolidation into the city in 1898. It became obsolete when the reservoirs in the Catskills began feeding the city in the 1950s.
When it was almost entirely drained in 1989, nature began to reclaim the area and it was almost turned into parkland before local residents began to speak up.
Malina testified at the New York State hearing that, “The Ridgewood Reservoir is a majestic place that deserves to be listed on the National Historic Register as a cultural and ecological treasure to be discovered by generations to come. In the course of bringing a new generation of New Yorkers to visit and experience the site, we realized that that we had become stakeholders in advocating for its preservation. The support of elected officials, community leaders and organizations has been critical to preventing its demolition and in advocating for its future.”
State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. , (D-Howard Beach) a member of the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation, said that he was pleased that the reservoir was added to the register.
“Having the Ridgewood Reservoir recognized on the New York State Historic Register back in December, and now having it listed on the National Register of Historic Places is an amazing achievement,” Addabbo said.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that the reservoir helps tell the history of Queens.
“The Ridgewood Reservoir was an engineering marvel in the 19th century and merits recognition as a landmark in urban history, engineering history and environmental history. The reservoir offers insight into the environmental history of Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County, and as such is an invaluable opportunity to study nature,” Katz said.
Reach reporter Jon Cronin at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.