Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States New York Brooklyn

Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn was settled by the Dutch in the 1830s, incorporated as a village in 1816 and as a city in 1834.  Brooklyn annexed the adjacent city of Williamsburgh in 1834, in which a company was developing a new water works system.  It was consolidated with the City of New York in 1898.

The first proposal to provide water works was in 1832

The Nassau Water Company was incorporated in 1855 by John Vanderbilt, Benjamin D. Silliman, William Kent, Joseph B. Varnum, Henry Ruggles, Andrew Carrigan and John Randall "for the purpose of supplying the consolidated city of Brooklyn and its vicinity with pure and wholesome water." The company was authorized to acquire the Long Island Water Company, which had formerly been the Williamsburgh Water Company..

Water was first introduced on December 14, 1858 and a public celebration was held on April 27 and 28, 1859.  One of the reasons given for support of consolidation with the City of New York was the limitations of the Brooklyn water supply.

Water is currently provided by the City of New York.

References and Timeline
1832 "To J. Sprague, Esq. President of the Village of Brooklyn," The Long-Island Star, February 1, 1832, Page 3.

1849 An act to provide for supplying the city of Brooklyn with water for the extinguishment of fires and for the use of its inhabitants.  April 10, 1849

1851 Report of the Standing Committee on Water: And Communications of W.J. M'Alpine and J.B. Jervis, Esqs. Engineers, on the Subject of Water for the City of Brooklyn, presented December 22, 1851, by Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.). Common Council. Water Committee, William Jarvis McAlpine, John Bloomfield Jervis

1852 Report made to the Water Committee, of the Common Council of the City of Brooklyn, April 15th, 1852 on supplying the city with water, by William Jarvis McAlpine.

1853 An act for the supply of the city of Brooklyn with water.  June 3, 1853.

1853 "Long Island Water Works Company," Brooklyn Evening Star, September 27, 1853, Page 3.
In the preliminary investigations and surveys, John B. Jarvis, Wm. J. McAlpine, Ward B. Burnett, Daniel Marsh, and J.S. Stoddard, Esqs. have been consulted or employed.

1854 Report of the Water Committee of the City of Brooklyn, made to the Common Council March 13, 1854: with the report of Gen. Ward B. Burnett, on the introduction of a supply of water | Also here |

1854 An act to amend an act entitled "An act for the supply of the city of Brooklyn with water," passed June 3, 1853.  April 7, 1854

1854 Report of John S. Stoddard, City Surveyor, on the Subject of Supplying Brooklyn with Water by the Well System, May 15, 1854, by John S. Stoddard

1854 "Meeting in Favor of Water," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 31, 1854, Page 2.

1854 "Letter from J. Ball," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 31, 1854, Page 3.

1854 "The Brooklyn Water Question--Visit to the Ponds," The New York Times, August 26, 1854, Page 1.

1854 Documents and plans submitted by the Water committee to the Common council of the city of Brooklyn, for the year 1854, by Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.). Common Council. Water Committee, With the report of Gen. Ward R. Burnett, Civil Engineer.

1855 An act further to amend an act entitled "An act to incorporate the Williamsburgh Water Works Company," passed April 16, 1852.  February 24, 1855.  Name changed to the Brooklyn Water Company to serve the consolidated city of Brooklyn.

1855 An act to incorporate the Nassau Water Company.  April 12, 1855.  Authorized to purchase the Brooklyn Water Company

1856 "Water for Brooklyn," Brooklyn Evening Star, March 22, 1856, Page 2.
Meeting to hear the proposal of William Beard, Jonathan Ball, Nathan Stephens and others in relation to a supply of water for the city of Brooklyn.

1856 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 29, 1856, Page 2.
Proposal to supply Wrought Iron Cement pipe by William Beard, Nathan Stephens, and Jonathan Ball.

1857 An act to provide for the supply of the city of Brooklyn with water.  February 11, 1857. 

1858 "On the test of duty adopted for the Brooklyn pumping engines," by Samuel McElroy, C.E. Journal of the Franklin Institute 65(4):239-246 (April 1858)

1858 "Sea and Ship News," The New York Times, May 1, 1858, Page 5.
The ship Cora Linn, which arrived from Glasgow yesterday morning, brought 600 tons of water pipe for the Brooklyn Water Company.

1858 Report made by an examining board of hydraulic engineers to the water commissioners upon the present state of the Brooklyn Water Works, December 9, 1858, by John B. Jervis, Frederick Graff, and John T. Clark.

1859 Remarks of the Investigation of the Water Commissioners of the Brooklyn Water Works, January 2, 1858, by Hon. John A. Dayton, Chairman of the Water Committee of 1854.  Brooklyn, February, 1859.

1859 An act to provide for the supply of the city of Brooklyn with water.  April 16, 1859.

1859 "A Strike," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 2, 1859, Page 11.

1859 "Water Pipes," letter to the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle by N. Stephens, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 6, 1859, Page 3.  Nathan Stephens was a director of the Patent Water & Gas Pipe Company.

1859 Report on supplying the city of Charlestown with pure water: made for the City council by order of Hon. James Dana, mayor of Charlestown, by George Rumford Baldwin and Charles L. Stevenson
Pages 75-76:  Brooklyn Waterworks

1860 "The Brooklyn Pumping Engine, Built by Messers. Woodruff & Beach, Hartford, Conn.--Principles of the Cornish Engine," The New York Times, February 1, 1860.

1860 "The Engine of the Water-Works and its Cut-off," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 16, 1860, Page 2.

1860 "Water-Works at Brooklyn, N.Y.," from The American Gas Light Journal 1(9):186 (March 1, 1860)

1860 Brooklyn water works : reports by mechanical engineers on trials of duty made in 1857 and 1859 upon Brooklyn, Hartford, Belleville, and Cambridge pumping engines

1861 Report on the extent and character of the district supplying water to the city of Brooklyn, by Theodore Weston, Asahel K. Eaton (Chemist.), and James Pugh Kirkwood

1862 Reports on Trials of Duty and Capacity of the Pumping Engines No. 2, at Ridgewood, and of No. 1, at Prospect Hill, Made in 1861-'2, by Frederick Graff, W. E. Worthen, and Erastus W. Smith.

1864 Manual of the Common Council of the City of Brooklyn for 1864
Pages 126-128:  Nassau Water Rates

1865 An act to amend an act entitled "An act for the supply of the city of Brooklyn with water," passed April sixteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty-nine.  May 11, 1865.

1867 Brooklyn Water Works and Sewers: A Descriptive Memoir, by James Pugh Kirkwood

1868 "The Brooklyn Pumping Engine," from The Waterworks of London: Together with a Series of Articles on Various Other Waterworks, by Zerah Colburn, William Henry Maw

1869 An act to reorganize the Board of Water and Sewerage Commissioners of the city of Brooklyn, and to provide for the repaving, repairing and cleaning the streets of said city by said board.  April 2, 1869.

1869 A History of the City of Brooklyn: Including the Old Town and Village of Brooklyn, the Town of Bushwick, and the Village and City of Williamsburgh, Volume 2, by Henry Reed Stiles
Pages 430-434:  Celebration of the Introduction of Water Works.

1870 "History of the Water Works," from A History of the City of Brooklyn, Volume 3, by Henry Reed Stiles

1873 The Water Works of Brooklyn: A Historical and Descriptive Account of the Construction of the Works, and the Quantity, Quality and Cost of the Supply, by George B. Brainard

1878 The Hempstead Storage Reservoir of Brooklyn: Its Engineering Theory and Results, by Samuel McElroy

1878 "The Brooklyn Pumping Engine," from Examples of Steam, Air, & Gas Engines of the Most Recent Approved Types, Practically Described: With an Account of All the Principal Projects for the Production of Motive Power from Heat which Have Been Propounded in Different Times and Countries, by John Bourne, C.E.

1881 Brooklyn, from Engineering News, 8:114 (March 19, 1881) | Part 2, 8:121  (March 26, 1881)

1882 "Water Consumption of Cities," Engineering News 9:113 (April 8, 1882).  Breakdown of per-capita water consumption in Brooklyn, 58.44 gallons.

1882 Brooklyn, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

1888 "Brooklyn," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1890 "Brooklyn," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Brooklyn," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1891 "The Brooklyn Water-Works Extension," Engineering News 25:225-226 (March 7, 1891) | General Map of the Brooklyn Water-Works System25:440  (May 9, 1891) | 25:546-547 (June 6, 1891)  | 26:74 (July 5, 1891) |

1891 "The Brooklyn Pumping Engines of 1860," by Samuel McElroy, Presented at the November, 1891 Meeting in New York City, Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 13:83-130 (1892) | also here |

1897 "The Brooklyn Water Question," The New York Times, January 3, 1897, Page 17.

1897 "Brooklyn," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1966 "Water for Brooklyn," by Jacob Judd, New York History 47(4):362-371 (October 1966)

2011 "Brooklyn's Thirst, Long Island's Water: Consolidation, Local Control, and the Aquifer," by Jeffrey A. Kroessler, CUNY Academic Works. | pdf |

Old Brooklyn Water Works Ride Notes

2017 Morris A. Pierce