BY JON CRONIN
After more than 20 years of advocacy, the Ridgewood Reservoir—created in 1859—has been placed on the New York State Register of Historic Places.
On Dec. 7, supporters of the initiative, NYC H2O Executive Director Matt Malina and Community Board 5 Parks Committee Chairman Steven Fiedler, spoke with the state legislature and successfully campaigned for the reservoir’s place on the state register to be approved in April.
The reservoir comprises 50 pristine acres in Highland Park on the border of Brooklyn and Queens. It was created as a water supply for Brooklyn and was instrumental in Brooklyn’s consolidation into the city in 1898. It became obsolete when 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.
NYC H2O, a city-waterways advocacy and educational group, said that it is an important source of fresh water for migrating birds.
“The Ridgewood Reservoir was an engineering marvel in the 19th century and merits recognition as a landmark in urban, engineering and environmental history,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Malina testified at the hearing, “In the course of bringing a new generation of New Yorkers to visit and experience the site, we realized 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.”
“For years, our community has been fighting to preserve the Ridgewood Reservoir, and today’s accomplishment is an important milestone,” said U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) following the week’s hearing. “The reservoir is a piece of living history that transcends generations of New Yorkers.”
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., a member of the New York State Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation, said, “NYC H2O has been instrumental in showcasing the reservoir’s natural beauty, historical significance to Queens and Brooklyn, and its function as an education asset to thousands of students.”