|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
|Middle Atlantic States||New York||New York City||Manhattan Company|
After the British evacuation of Manhattan on November 25, 1783, the process of rebuilding began. After receiving several unsolicited proposals to built water works, the Common Council advertised for bids in 1786 and received three, but returned them unopened due to local sentiment against private ownership of water works. Several other proposals were received in the following years, and in February, 1796 the Common Council advertised for water works proposals. Dr. Joseph Browne submitted a proposal to take water from the River Bronx, which was favorably received by the Council. They hired William Weston to study the practicality and cost of this scheme while they would prepare and submit an act to the legislature that would give the City the power to construct the system and raise taxes to pay for it. Weston submitted his report in March 1799, in the meantime Aaron Burr, who was Dr. Brown's brother-in-law, led an effort in the New York legislature to obtain a charter to supply water to the City.
The Manhattan Company was incorporated on April 2, 1799, with the charter including a clause "That it shall and may be lawful for the said company to employ all such surplus capital as may belong or accrue to the said company in the purchase of public or other stock, or in any other monied transactions or operations not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of this State or of the United States for the sole benefit of the said company." This clause was the beginnings of JPMorgan Chase and Company.
The Manhattan Company proceeded to build a water works system, but used local wells instead of the Bronx River as a water source. The pipes were mostly bored wood logs, but included 400 feet of cast-iron pipe to connect the pump to the reservoir, the first installed in an American water works. Some wooden pipes were provided by Caleb Leach, who was later agent and superintendent of the works. Water was initially pumped into a small elevated cistern using horse pumps provided by Robert McQueen. He built a larger elevated iron tank at the corner of Reade and Center Streets in 1800. Another reservoir was built on Chambers Street. Two steam engines were purchased from McQueen in 1803. The use of well water resulted in a very unsatisfactory system, but it managed to survive until Croton Water arrived in the 1840s. The company's charter was extended in 1808, which included a provision authorizing the company to sell the water system to the city. The two 18 HP steam engines apparently remained in service until the system was eventually abandoned.
|Manual of the corporation of the city of New York, for the year 1855, by D.T. Valentine, page 220.|
Manhattan Company Reservoirs
||Near Horse Pump
||Cistern mentioned in Joseph Browne's
July 26, 1800 letter to Judge Burke in Charleston, South Carolina..
||Northwest corner of
Reade (Reed) and Centre Streets
||Built by Robert McQueen. Mentioned as being under construction in
Joseph Browne's July 26, 1800 letter. Elevated 23 feet above ground,
wrought iron tank 41 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep. Later
enclosed in a building, mentioned in several articles from 1898
until its demolition sometime after 1914.
||31-33 Chambers St.
||Shown in illustration above. Apparently demolished after
construction of the Croton aqueduct in 1842, as no further record is
known to exist. The property was owned by the Department of
Public Works until the Hall of Records of built at the end of the
Nineteenth Century. Some sources state a capacity of 550,000
gallons, but no details of its size are known to exist.
||Bleecker Street and Broadway.||?
||Mentioned in Gregory S. Hunter's dissertation and book, also the city's 1840 report on the company.|
In 1829 the City of New York built a water tank for fire protection and installed iron pipes to distribute the water. A steam engine was added in 1830 to replace the original horse pump.
Institute and City Reservoir, from
American Magazine of Useful Knowledge 1:344 (April, 1835)
from The Lost 13th Street Reservoir -- 13th Street at 4th Avenue
In 1825 the New York Water Works Company was incorporated, but the potential water supplies were previously granted to others and it had to surrender its charter in 1827.
In 1830 John L. Sullivan proposed to build an aqueduct under the Hudson River to use water from New Jersey.
The introduction of the Croton water supply in 1842 made this system obsolete, but water was pumped until 1923 to protect their corporate banking charter.
1788 "Water-Works," The New-York Packet, January 29, 1788, Page 3.
The following Petition is now handing around this city in order to take the sense of the inhabitants whether they would wish the city should be furnished with a plentiful supply of water, by means of water works and conduit-pipes, as proposed (and party executed) before the later war.
To the Hon. the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New-York in Common Council convened:
:That as the present mode of furnishing this City and shipping with water, is in many respects subject to many inconveniences, we do hereby declare our approbation of a design for supplying the same by means of waterworks and conduit pipes, and will (as soon as the same shall be compleated) be satisfied to pay our respective proportion of a tax for the purpose, provided the same does not exceed twenty-six shillings for each home per annum, at an average.
May it therefore please your honors to take the premises into consideration, and to adopt such measures for effecting the same as you shall judge most expedient, for the advantage, convenience and safety of the City.
|C A L C U L A T I O N|
3200 houses in the city at 26s is
1000 houses rated at 45s per ann.
1000 ditto 26
1200 ditto 10/2d
1798 Treatise on the yellow fever; shewing its origin, cure and prevention, by Joseph Browne, February, 1798. | A text version is available here | Browne recommended use of the Bronx River was a water supply.
of Joseph Browne, M. D. on Supplying the city with Pure and Wholesome
Water, July 2, 1798.
Page 27: That every householder, in all the streets of the said city, through which the pipes of the conduit shall be laid, shall be entitled to receive daily from the same, a supply of at least thirty gallons of water.
1798 Report of Committee on Supplying the City with Water, December 17, 1798.
1799 To Alexander Hamilton from Philip Schuyler, [31 January 1799] The opening paragraph of this letter contains the first reference in Hamilton’s extant correspondence to a series of events that led to the chartering of the Manhattan Company.
1799 "Thoughts on the mode of supplying the city of New-York with water and contributing to the health of its inhabitants," Greenleaf's New Daily Advertiser The Argus, March 20, 1799, Page 3.
1799 AN ACT for supplying the city of New York with pure and wholesome water, April 2, 1799,
1799 A Yearly Tax of
140,000 Dollars! [Handbill]
A Few Plain Facts, for the consideration of the Electors of New-York!
The Corporation of your City, anxious for its welfare, framed a petition the last winter to the Legislature, stating the calamities you had recently suffered, and requesting the aid of a grant of the Auction duties, amounting to about 30,000 dollars per annum, to enable them to bring pure and wholesome Water into the City, and to furnish every family with it, free of all further expence; and an Act for that purpose was even drafted by the Recorder and sent with the petition to Albany. – But the majority of your Representatives were prevailed upon to withhold the petition and to conceal the Bill. – In place of it, Mr. Burr, by means of erroneous statements and false representations, procured an Act of incorporation to himself and his associates, empowering them to raise the enormous sum of Two Millions of Dollars for erecting works and supplying the City with Water, and those who receive the Water are to pay the proprietors the interest of their money. As this capital must yield at least seven per cent, amounting to more than One Hundred and Forty Thousand Dollars per annum, no person in the city, rich or poor, can enjoy the privilege of one of the indispensable necessaries of life, without contributing, yearly, his proportion of this immense sum, which far exceeds all of your highest City Taxes.
And now you are called on to vote again for Mr. Burr as your representative – but he is a dangerous man! Let theses facts put you on your guard against the Ticket headed with his name.
April 30, 1799
1799 Proceedings of the Corporation of New-York, on supplying the city with pure and wholesome water with a memoir of Joseph Browne, M.D. on the same subject, Browne's Memoir is dated July 2, 1798 and was approved for publication on December 17, 1798.
1799 Report of William Weston, Esquire, on the practicability of introducing the water of the River Bronx into the city of New-York. : Done at the request of the Corporation of the said city, March 16, 1799 | also here | A text version is available here
1799 Report of the Manhattan Committee of the Manhattan Company, by John B. Coles, Samuel Osgood and John Stevens, April 19, 1799.
1799 "Pipes of conduit
wanted for the Manhattan Company," Greenleaf's New York Daily
Advertiser, May 9, 1799, Page 3.
The subscriber is authorized by the Manhattan Company to receive proposals for supplying the said company with pipes, for the conveyance of water, made from yellow or white poine logs. From 500 to 2,000 will be immediately wanted of from 12 to 14 feet in length and of different bores 2 to 6 inches in diameter. The diameter of the log must be according to the bore from 12 to 24 inches clear of sap. The pipes are to be fitted into each other. The price of each kind must be specifically mentioned. The pipes must be delivered at the city of New York, on or before the 1st of August next, proposals will be received until the frist day of June. Joseph Browne, No. 107 Liberty street
N.B. As a much larger, quantity of pipes than the above, will soon be wanted, it may become an object worth attention to those who have saw mills in the vicinity of navigable water. New York, May 8th.
1799 Greenleaf's New
York Journal, June 8, 1799, Page 4.
The Manhattan Company intend shortly to employ a superintendent to conduct the works necessary for conveying water into the city; the salary to be paid to such superintendant will be 1500 dollars per annum. Persons property qualified to execute this important work, will apply by letter accompanied with the best recommendations they can produce to the secretary of the company. J.B. Prevost
Gazette, August 29, 1799, Page 3.
The Water-Works of the Manhattan Company progress with astonishing rapidity, Pipes are already laid through Chapel-street nearly down to Pearl-street – a distance of half a mile from the source – and in a month hence we may expect that Pearl, from Chapel-street down, will be completely supplied with pure water.
Advertiser, November 13, 1799, Page 3.
To the Public.
The legislature at their last session was pleased to incorporate the Manhattan Company, for the purpose, among others, of supplying the city of New-York with pure and wholesome water.-- The directors, impressed with the importance of this trust, determined to lose no time and to spare no expense in carrying into full effect the benevolent design of their incorporation. An object so essential to the general health and convenience of the inhabitants could not fail to insure the most unremitting attention on their part; such measures therefore were immediately adopted, and have been steadily pursued, as appears best calculated to obtain an early, adequate, and permanent supply. Notwithstanding the intervention of a malignant fever, which occasioned so great and so large a desertion of the city, the works have never been suspended; and although not more than seven months have elapsed since their first meeting, the directors are happy in announcing to their fellow citizens that conduit pipes are laid in several of the principal streets, and that water is not ready to be furnished to many of the inhabitants and to all the shipping in the harbour. From actual experiment there is no doubt that one of the wells already opened will yield to five thousand families a daily supply of fifty gallons each, of a quality excellent for drinking and good for every culinary purpose.
The following regulations have been adopted for the distribution of water among the inhabitants of the city.
1st. Those who are desirous of being supplied from the aqueducts of the company will please to apply personally or in writing to the superintendent of the works, who will keep a register of the name of the applicant, the number and situation of his house, and of the rate he is to pay. The superintendent will also direct a proper person to tap or pierce the main pipe opposite to his house, for the insertion of the smaller or lateral tube, by which the water is to be conveyed into the building. The main pipe must always be opened or tapped under the direction of the superintendent or of a person employed by him.
2d. The lateral or small pipe must be procured and laid at the expence of the applicant, who may employ what workman he pleased for the purpose. The company recommend the use of leaden pipes.
3d. Although water will be continually running in the pipes, and the inhabitants will not be limited in its use, yet is will be proper to guard against any unreasonable waste which may happen from negligence or other cause, as such waste cannot but prove prejudicial to the inhabitants at large, and may be attended with great inconvenience and trouble to persons immediately in the vicinity. The prevent in some degree any wasteful consumption of the water, the pipes for leading it into the houses must be completed and fixed under the direction of the superintendent, who, on complaint made to him, will visit the apartments where the pipes may be fixed, in order to prevent a continuance of such waste.
4th.No one shall supply with water received from the aqueducts any neighbour or person not living in a house furnished by the company.
5th.The rates at which the water will be delivered are as follows:-- For every house or building, containing not more than four fire places, there shall be paid the sum of five dollars per annum; and for every fire place exceeding four in any house or building there shall be paid an additional one dollar and twenty-five cents, providing however that not more than twenty dollars shall be paid for any private house or dwelling. These rates shall not be encreased during the term of five years from the date hereof.
6th .From the proceeding rates are excepted buildings in which manfactures are carried on requiring a larger supply than usual. Stables and taverns, with the proprietors of which separate agreements will be made.
7th. All payments for water shall be made quarterly, to wit, on the first days of February, May, August, and November of every year; one quarter to always be paid in advance. Persons who begin to take water on any other day than the these before mentioned will pay in advance pro rata until the quarter day then next ensuing.
8th.Upon default in payment as aforesaid, or in case of infraction of any of the proceding regulations, the pipe though which the water is conveyed to the house will be immediately cut off.
9th. Ships and vessels will be supplied at the rate of 10 cents per hogshead. A fountain for the purpose is erected at the extremity of Dye-street, where boats may conveniently lie, and casks or hogsheads be filled without the trouble of putting them on shore. Fountains for the same purpose will be raised in other parts of the city.
10th. Works of this kind being in a great degree new in this country, it is not possible to foresee all the cases of which it may be necessary to provide. Experience will suggest many improvements in the mode of distributing the water; the directors therefore expresly reserve to themselves the right granted by the act of incorporation of making from time to time such change in those regulations and such further bye laws and ordinances for preserving the works of the company, and for conveying the water through the city, as they may think proper, except only as to the rates above mentioned, which shall undergo no augmentation for the space of five years.
DANIEL LUDLOW, president. By order of the board J.B. PREVOST, secretary.
1799 Greenleaf's New
York Journal," November 16, 1799, reprinted in Manhattan
Manhattan Company water regulations and rates.
1800 New York Gazette
& General Advertiser, June 11, 1800, Page 3.
The rapidity with which the Manhattan Water works in this city go on, is worthy of remark — already six miles of pipes are laid through tbe principal streets — and upwards of four hundred houses are supplied with water.
1800 Letter from Joseph Browne to Judge Burke, Charleston, South Carolina, July 26, 1800 Good description of the water system as of July, 1800.
of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784-1831, 3:6
July 6, 1801. Ordered that the Aldn of the 2d & 3d with the Assist of the 5th Wards be a Committe to apply to the Manhattan Co on the subject of the bad state ot the Pavement in many of the Streets occasioned by their bring broken up to lay the Aqueducts and since not put in the Order they were found.
1802 "Water for
Shipping," Mercantile Advertiser, June 29, 1802, Page 4.
The Directors of the Manhattan Company have resolved to lease out for one year, from the first day of July next. the exclusive right to furnish the shipping of the harbour with water from the different foundtains on the North and East Rivers, established by the Company.
Proposals must be sent sealed to the Subscriber, on or before the 27th inst. They may contemplate either the whole of the shipping in the two rivers, or any part thereof. It is expeted that security for the sum agreed on will be offered.
The Lessees will be at liberty to charge such price as the water as they please.
Joseph Browne, Superintendent. June 8
1802 "Water for
Shipping," Daily Advertiser, July 7, 1802, Page 2.
The Subscriber has taken on lease of one year, the extensive right to supply whipping with Water from the aqueducts of the Manhattan Company. As it may be found very convenient for many persons to have permission to sell Water to boatmen and others from their private houses, the Subscriber will sell such right to any person desirous of the same, as a modern rate, at the same time he begs leave to notify that if any person shall be found selling Water without such permission, he will take the property step to punish them for the injury sustained. Apply at the corner of Cross and Barley street, near the Manhattan Wells. July 7. Noah Miller.
Chronicle, March 5, 1803, page 3
Steam Engine. Sealed Proposals will be received by the subscriber until the 20th instant, for constructing and erecting a Steam Engine for the Manhattan Company, on the principle of Watt and Boulton's patent, capable of raising one million gallons of water per 24 hours, to a height of 60 feet. Joseph Browne, Superintendent of Water Works
1803 Daily Advertiser
(New York, New York), June 8, 1803, Page 2.
Extracts from a late Dublin paper. A work has lately made its appearance in London, written by Doctor Lambe, a celebrated Physician, entitled "Researches into the Properties of Spring Water; with Medical Cautions against the Use of Lead in Water-pipes, Pumps, Cisterns,&c." Many new positions are advanced in this work, which has excited amongst the faculty no inconsiderable share of attention.
Evening Post, December 30, 1806, Page 3.
The Bronx, Croton, and Sawmill rivers, or any two of them; will furnish that ample supply.
Advertiser (New York, New York), May 11, 1807, Page 3. | Also
published as a handbill dated May 1, 1807. |
MANHATTAN WATER WORKS.
The President and Directors of the Manhattan Company, desirous of rendering the establishment of the Water Works as useful to the city as possible, in order to give general information respecting the same, and to correct abuses which have a tendency to obstruct the important objects of the institution, have thought proper to publish the following abstract of resolutions, passed by the board of directors, having a reference to the terms and stipulations to be observed by those who are supplied with the water, viz.
1. Application for the water to be made in writing, to the superintendent of the Water-Works, and no one to make use of it, for building or otherwise without liberty first obtained as aforesaid.
2. Applicants pay the expense of laying the lateral pipes, and keeping them in constant repair, which at proper times, are to be examined by the superintendent, or those acting by this directions.
THE RATES at which the water will be delivered, are as follow.
1. To houses, containing not more than three fire-places, at 5 dollars per annum; if occupied by two families, 7 dollars and 50 cents.
2. Houses, of five fire-places, 6 dollars and 50 cents; if occupied by two families, 7 dollars 50 cents.
3. Houses, of six fire-places, 7 dollars 50 cents; if occupied by two families, 9 dollars.
4. Houses, of seven fire-places, 8 dollars 75 cents, if occupied by two families, 10 dollars.
5. Houses, of eight or more fire-places, 1 dollars 25 cents for each fire-place.
6. Houses, in which dram shops are kept, if or not more than four fire-places, 6 dollars.
7. Taverns and eating houses, containing not more than six fire-places, 7 dollars 50 cents.
8. Houses, occupied as stores without families, 5 dollars. From the abaove are excepted grocery stores, which pay 10 dollars.
9. Bake-houses 10 dollars for every oven.
10. Currier's shops 7 dollars 50 cents.
11. Printing offices, hatters stone cutters and barbers' shops, 5 dollars.
12. Stables pay according to the number of stalls, one stall 3 dollars, two stalls 5 dollars, three or ten 2 dollars reach; and for every stall over ten 1 dollar. All public stables to be supplied with ball cocks; as also manufactories if required.
13. Shipping supplied at the fountains, at the foot of Courtlandt Street, Coenties, Coffee House and Peck Slips, and the corner of Vessey and Washington Streets, at 20 cents a puncheon. Coasting vessels at 2 dollars and 50 cents per annum.
14. From the above rates are excepted manufactories and hotels, or taverns requiring a larger supply than usual, with the proprietors of which separate agreements are made. The price of water for building is also estimated according to the quantity used.
15. Although the company employ men for the purpose of laying and repairing lateral pipes, the inhabitants are not precluded from employing other workmen, or in case of laying new pipes, notice therefore is given to the superintendent, therefore no deduction from the annual stipulated price will be made, for an alledged want of water, be the cause what it may, provided the main pipes are supplied, which is all the company guarantee.
16. Payment to be made half-yearly in advance, and no subscriber for the water can discontinue his subscription, except at the commencement of each half year, viz. the 1st of May, and 1st of November and notice thereof to be given in writing.
17. Those who suffer the water to waste, or supply others who do not pay the company for the same, as well as those who are thus supplied, shall be prosecuted for the damages.
18. The directors reserve the themselves the right of making any alterations in the preceding regulations; and also inc case of default of payment, as aforesaid, or other infractions of said regulations, by an individual taking the water, to discontinue his supply.
N.B.Orders for new pipe, or repairs, to be left at the Water Office, 18, Upper Chamber-Street, or at the Manhattan Bank. The present charges for laying in lead pipe is 6s, and for wood do. 3s. per foot including the taking up and replacing the pavement, flagging, &c. The cost of conveying the water to houses in wood pipe (which from experience is found to be least liable to injury) is generally not more than 10 dollars. And the annual expence in repairs very trifling, consisting chiefly in repairing the cocks, which from the great pressure of the water is required to be done in 12, or at least 18 months.
By order of the board of directors. John Fellows, Superintendent W.W. May 11, 1807.
1808 AN ACT supplementary to the act, entitled “AN ACT for supplying the city of New York with pure and wholesome water,” March 25, 1808.
1813 An act authorising a Dam to be built across the Haerlem River. April 8, 1813.
Water-Works," Evening Post (New York, New York), May 19,
1813, Page 3. Also printed as a handbill
with "1 to 3 families" corrected to "1 to 3 fire-places."
The price for supplying houses will be a formerly for private families, viz:-
1 to 3 families $5, and $1.25 for each additional fire place more that that number. If there is more than one family, the additional price of $3 will be added.
of the Common Council of the City of New York 10:503
August 19, 1819 A Letter from Robert Macomb to his Honor the Mayor was presented by him and read which stated that he had a proposition to make for supplying the City with Water for all Domestic and Public purposes and requesting a Committee to be and requesting a Commitee to be appoined to whom his plan might be explained.
of the Common Council of the City of New York 11:15-16
March 6, 1820. The report presented on 21st February by the Committee of Public Lands and Places, on the memorial of Robert Macomb respecting a project for supplying this City with water, was called up & read as follows: That the Committee have had several conferences with Mr. Macomb, from which they understand that he has associates who can & are willing to furnish ample means to enable him to convey an abundant supply of pure water for public and private uses from Rye Pond in Westchester County to this City in the course of two years, and that he will not ask any pecuniary aid from the Common Council. All he prays is the privilege of laying down the necessary pipes.
The Committee, after due reflection can discover no reasonable objection to granting this privilege, so far as it can be done without prejudice to the rights of any incorporation or individuals, unless it should be thought that the Common Council ought to undertake a work so important to the comfort and interest of our citizens and not confide it to individual enterprise. The Committee have concluded to offer the following resolutions:
Resolved that Robert Macomb and his associates be permitted to lay down pipes in the roads & Streets of this City, whenever it appears to the Common Council that a sufficient quantity is collected in a reservoir at Harlaem River—provided that in so doing they do not interfere with the rights of others.
Resolved that Robert Macomb and his associates shall bind themselves and their successors in a Contract with the Common Council to transfer at any time when required, after the expiration of Forty years from the completion of the water works all right and interest therein to the Mayor, Aldermen & Commonalty of this City for which they shall receive the cost of constructing the said water works after deducting a proper allowance for use & wear.
Resolved that the Committee on Public Lands & Places, together with the Counsel of this Board be instructed to prepare a contract and make arrangements with Robert Macomb and his Associates in conformity with the preceding resolution and report the same to this Board and that no rights or privileges be conveyed by these resolutions but only by the contract contemplated to be entered into.
Water-Works," National Advocate (New York, New York), October 27,
1821, Page 4.
The Manhattan Water Works having lately undergone some important repairs, and an additional pipe of Conduit, connected with the Reservoir, an abundant supply of water, in every part of the city where the pipes are laid, is now afforded.
Advocate, December 4, 1822, Page 2.
Extract from a letter addressed by Benjamin Wright, Esq. to a member of the Canal Committee in Sharon, Connecticut, dated Rome, (N Y) Sept. 16.
Seeing some notice in the newspapers relative to a canal from Sharon and into Dover, and from thence gaining waters of the Croton River, and following it to its entrance and into the Hudson, and examining the maps and reflecting on the importance of conveying a considerable body of water into the city of New-York, (which I have long considered as absolutely indispensable to the health of the city) I have been speculating upon the probability of connecting the two objects of Canal, and supply the city with abundance of water; believing, that to obtain that supply, resort must be had to Croton River.
1823 An act to incorporate the New-York and Sharon Canal Company. April 19, 1823.
Advocate, July 28, 1823, Page 2.
New York & Sharon Canal. It is said the survey made last fall by Mr. White, an experienced engineer, at the expence of the city, ended, like all the former, in a decided opinion, that it was impracticable to obtain water from any other source, to be relied on, except the Croton; and that at an expence (as then contemplated,) beyond our means.
White's Report, January 28, 1824
Page 19: It has been ascertained by experiments made at Philadelphia, that twenty-seven gallons per day for each person, is sufficient for the demands in summer, and this includes the amount used for all purposes of manufacturing by brewers, tanners, livery stables, and for washing the gutters, &c.
1824 Benjamin Wright's Report, January 28, 1824 [Note the 1834 date on the report is incorrect.]
1825 "Outline of a Project to Supply the City of New York with Water," by "Fulton", from American Mechanics' Magazine, 1(13):203 (April 30, 1825) Recommends use of Croton River.
to the directors of the New-York Water Works Company, Canvass
White, engineer of the New-York Water Works Company, January 9, 1826 |
Page 4: If we allow twenty gallons for the consumption of each person daily, we shall have a supply for a population of 450,000 inhabitants; the allowance of twenty gallons will be ample to cover the quantity that may be required for factories and other purposes.
1823 Queries to the superintendent of the Manhattan Water Works, and his answers thereto. March 5, 1823.
1824 "Manhattan Company,"
National Advocate (New York, New York), April 22, 1824, Page 1.
The works of the Manhattan Company are now in the most complete order, and the public may be assured of a steady and regular supply of water. They can supply some thousand houses more than formerly having upwards of twenty-five miles of pipes through the city. The quality of the water is as good as can be found; and the company having lately replaced many of the old pipes with new ones, the water will be received cleaner and in better order than heretofore. The expense of conducting the water in leaden pipes from the main pipes to the dwelling is much reduced, and unless when the distance is very great, will not exceed 10 to $12 per hour. The company GUARANTEE to those who subscribe for the water, a regular supply in all season of the year.
1825 AN ACT to incorporate the New-York Water-Works Company. March 24, 1825.
1825 "Water for our city," Evening Post (New York, New York), March 28, 1825, Page 2.
of Furnaces, Notice," Commercial Advertiser (New York, New
York), June 3, 1825, Page 4.
Proposals will be received by the New York Water Works Company, until the 1st day of August, for furnishing them with cast iron pipes.
1825 "Account of the Water Works for Supplying Edinburgh with Water," October 19, 1825.
1826 Report to the directors of the New-York Water Works Company, Canvass White, engineer of the New-York Water Works Company, January 9, 1826 | also here |
1826 An act to incorporate the New-York Harlaem Spring Water Company. April 18, 1826.
essay on the art of boring the earth for the obtainment of a
spontaneous flow of water : with hints towards forming a new theory
for the rise of waters, November 21, 1826, [by Levi Disbrow]
Page 11: No. 12. New-York. Manhattan Company. Began Sept. 1825. Level 40 feet above the Hudson. Bored 40 feet in sand and gravel; 60 feet in hard granite; from that depth to 240 feet, occasional veins of water ; increasing in quantity as the depth increases; water, when a tube is introduced, now within 50 feet of the surface; discharges 12 gallons a minute, by means of a pump. When down to the depth of 260 feet, the chisel passed a vacuum of an inch; the water immediately sunk one foot; but in the course of a few hours, when the cavity was filled, the water arose again. This has been the case in several wells; boring still continuing.
Pages 19-20: Should a bored well cost the Manhattan Company of New-York 6000 dollars the expense compared with the benefit 1s too insignificant to be worth a thought. They have been thus far liberal towards effecting their object, and as they seem sincere in their desire to comply with their part of their engagement to the city, it would be well for the citizens of New-York to give them a little further time to finish their experiments.
Page 21: The Manhattan Company ought not to be discouraged were the borer to go to the depth of 600 feet. It is a wealthy Company, and it will be both dignified and praiseworthy to prosecute this scheme to the utmost verge of prudence ; not only as it respects the advancement of science, but as it concerns the interests of so distinguished and populous a city as New-York ; the health of which city being in so great a measure dependant on the good faith of this Company.
1827 American (New York,
New York), May 1, 1827, Page 3.
The Manhattan Company inform their subscribers and the public generally, that the Water Works have undergone a thorough repair, an abundant supply of water can now be furnished to any individual wishing the same, in every street of the city, below Catharine Market on the east side, Canal street in the centre, Grand street in the north side. The rates at which the water is deliered, are the same as usual, and the difficulty and cost of conveying the same into houses, factories, buildings, &c. in a great degree diminished. Great care is also taken to deliver the Water pure and clean, as several alterations have been made to the works.
1827 Manhattan water works: The president and directors of the Manhattan Company have resolved the following regulations for the better government of the water works, John Lozier, superintendent water works.
1827 "Proposals for Cast Iron Pipes," The Evening Post, September 22, 1827, Page 3. For Manhattan Company, 5,000 feet reach of 4, 6 and 12 inch pipes.
1827 New York Well Company. This was first mentioned in Col. De Witt Clinton's 1832 Report (listed below) as being incorporated in 1827, which was repeated in many subsequent accounts, but no direct record of such a company being organized or incorporated has been found.
Steam Engine Makers," Commercial Advertiser (New York, New
York), February 11, 1830, Page 4.
Steam engine to raise 300 gallons of water per minute, from the Public Well, near the intersection of the Bowery and Thirteenth street, and discharge the same into the Reservoir adjoining the well.
1830 "Letter from Cyrus Swan, April 19, 1830." Swan was the president of the New-York and Sharon Canal Company, which was authorized by its charter to supply water to the city.
Common Council, May 31st, 1830," Commercial Advertiser (New
York, New York), June 8, 1830, Page 1.
Rights of Manhattan Company
1830 A description of a sub-marine aqueduct to supply New-York with water from New-Jersey, connected with a commercial canal, and rail-way, for the direct western trade of this city, August 14, 1830, by John L. Sullivan
1830 Extracts from Memorial of Francis E. Phelps, May 17, 1830
on the source, quantity, and purity of the water, February 22,
1831, Lyceum of Natural History
Page 9: From all which has been previously stated, you will learn that it is the unanimous opinion of the Committee, that no adequate supply of good or wholesome water can be obtained on this Island, for the wants of a large and rapidly increasing city like New York. The various preforations which have been made, in the absence of all other proof, would sufficiently establish this position. These have been undertaken without any acquaintance with those immutable laws of nature, which regulate the position of rocks, and their utter uselessness is now sufficiently obvious. They may be carried to any assignable depth in this rock, and when completed will be merely reservoirs to receive the drainage from above.
Expose of Water Boring, March 28, 1831.
Page 6: I have bored a well for the Manhattan company at the corner of Broadway and Bleecker-Street.
Water Works," Commercial Advertiser (New York, New York),
May 5, 1831, Page 2.
Visit to new reservoir.
1831 "Analysis of the Manhattan Water, November 24, 1831," by George Chilton
of the committee on Fire and Water relative to introducing into the
City of New-York a supply of pure and wholesome Water,
December 28, 1831. Bound with many other documents relating to the
introduction of water into New York City.
Page 4: Several plans have been proposed to produce the above desirable results; and although your Committee do not intend to express any definite or conclusive opinion, with a view to bind the Corporation as to the adoption of either, yet they feel bound to consider them all, and to show that at least one is within the reasonable ability of the Common Council to execute. The first plan which they will consider, is the one for procuring water from springs on this island. Your Committee will not say that numerous excavations would not produce a sufficient supply, but they do apprehend, that four millions of gallons (the supply the works should be capable of furnishing) of pure water to be procured on the island by excavations, would be more expensive than the introduction of it from abroad. The well in 13th street gives, at its greatest yield, 20,000 gallons per day, and this experiment is considered very successful; yet it would require two hundred such wells with steam power at each, to supply four millions of gallons, and this supply likely to be effected by heat and drought, at periods when the greatest quantity is required. But a still greater objection arises from the fact that our island will be compactly built over, thereby diminishing the quantity, and destroying the purity of the water to be obtained from this source. This fact is founded not only in reason, but is taught by our experience; for many of the wells which formerly gave good water, have now become, by the extension of the city, noxious and unfit for use. We also add, that the New-York Water Works Company, subsequent to 1824, made repeated, and it is believed unsuccessful experiments, to procure water on the island. All the other plans proposed, look to the springs and rivers of Westchester county for the supply. The advocates for bringing the water from the Croton, base their argument mainly on the abundance of the supply to be obtained from that river. This important advantage must be yielded to the advocates of this plan, over that of all the others; and were it not for the distance which the Croton River lies from the city, it certainly would be the most desirable source whence to procure the supply.
1832 Advertisement of a proposition for ward companies to supply the city of New York with rock water, etc, July, 1832, by Levi Disbrow and J.L. Sullivan
the mechanics of New-York : on the subject of supplying the city with
pure water, August, 1832, by John L Sullivan, also, in behalf
of Levi Disbrow, Mechanician.
Page 19: Thus, one performation and one steam engine may be sufficient to supply each ward of the city of New-York, if the perforation is very successful.
The Bleecker-street perforation is 442 feet deep, and, with a six horse engine, delivers 44,000 gallons in twenty-four hours; but it is capable of affording more.
1832 "The Reservoir," Connecticut Journal (New Haven, Connecticut), August 14, 1832, Page 2.
1832 "The Petition of John L. Sullivan and Levi Disbrow," Commercial Advertiser (New York, New York), October 24, 1832, Page 1.
of Colonel De Witt Clinton on potential water supplies for the City of
New York, December 22, 1832 | also here
to the report | also here
10. The works of the Manhattan Company consists of a Well in Cross-street, twenty-five feet in diameter, and two Steam Engines of eighteen horse power each ; a Reservoir on Chambersstreet, and one or two small wooden Reservoirs. In a Circular, signed by John Lozier, Esq. in 1823, he states, that the Steam Engines work sixteen hours in the day, and raise in twenty-four hours, 691,200 gallons, which is more than one fifth greater than the capacity of the Reservoir; that twenty-five miles of pipes were then down, and the Company supplied two thousand houses, excluding manufactories, &c. He also remarks, “That the water was pumped very clear from the Well, and the Reservoirs so constructed with Strainers, that impurities of any kind, cannot pass into the pipe of Conduit.” That the Company had not expended less than $400,000 in constructing the Works, and that the Well from which the water is obtained, was the Old Tea Water Pump, and was called Tea Water, and was considered the best on the Island.
11. The Manhattan Company since 1823, have employed Mr. Dinsbrow to construct a Well, near the corner of Bleecker-street and Broadway; its diameter is eight inches, and its depth is four hundred and forty-two feet.
12. The conclusions which we can draw from Mr. Lozier’s Circular in 1823, are these, That the Manhattan Reservoir on Chambers-street, does not contain a quantity equal to the daily consumption, or it is five times filled and emptied in every twenty-four hours, and the water when distributed for use, is in the same state as the water in the pumps and well That the Company have, on an average, laid one mile of pipe, mostly of wood, every year since its incorporation to 1823, and that the best pump water on the Island, by having a dense population collected around its sources, has lost its goodness, and now contains foreign matter destructive to health.
1833 An act for the appointment of commissioners in relation to supplying the city of New-York with pure and whole some water. Passed February 26, 1833.
1833 An address to the Mayor, the Aldermen, and inhabitants of New York, supplemental to Col. Clinton's report, on water: demonstrating ... the advantages of a rock-water company, with banking privileges, appropriating the surplus to public baths, and cleansing streets, also, a proposition to the Manhattan Company, to fill their aqueduct with rock-water, March 4, 1833, John Langdon Sullivan
1833 "Pure Water," Mechanics Magazine 1(4):229 (May, 1833) Disbrow and Sullivan's rock water plan and Mr. Parke's patent water filters.
1833 Report of the Commissioners Relative to Supplying the City of New-York with Pure and Wholesome Water, November 12, 1833. Includes "Engineer's Report," by D.B. Douglass, Civil Engineer, November 1, 1833.
Of the Commissioners, under an act of the Legislature of this State,
passed February 26, 1833, relative to supplying the city of New-York with
pure and wholesome water. December 31, 1833. | also here
Page 12: The Commissioners have adopted 22 gallons for each inhabitant of the city of New-York, as the quantity required for every purpose, which will make it necessary that 6,600,000 gallons should be delivered at the distributing reservoir every 24 hours. The Commissioners have shown, however, that five or six times that quantity may be obtained, and brought to the city, if required.
Pages 14-16: An opinion is entertained by many of our citizens, however, that water of a good quality, and in sufficient quantity, may be obtained in any part of the city of New-York, by deep excavating or boring of the rock on which this island rests. The Commissioners have endeavoured to obtain information on this subject, and, with that object, they have inspected such of the wells as have produced good water, in considerable quantity, by deep excavation or boring in the rock; and to the same end, they have been furnished by Mr. Levi Disbrow, who holds a patent for his improved instruments used in penetrating or boring rock, with a detailed statement of the whole of his operations in boring for water on the island of New-York. From this document it appears, that he has operated in twenty-three different sections of the city, and has, except in a few instances, been successful in producing good water.
The principal and most successful operations of Mr. Disbrow are, the deep boring for the Manhattan Company at the corner of Broadway and Bleecker-street, and for Mr. G. Richards' distillery at the corner of Factory and Perry-streets. He has also made a boring at Holt's hotel, corner of Pearl and Fulton-streets, of one hundred and thirty feet in the earth and five hundred in the rock, or six hundred and thirty feet below the surface.
The next operation worthy of note, though not effected by Mr. Disbrow, is the well sunk by the Corporation of this city, at Thirteenth-street. This well is 17 feet in diameter, and 113 feet in depth, with three horizontal excavations of four feet in width and six in height, and extending from the bottom of the well, in the rock, two of them seventy-five and one of them one hundred and ten feet in length. This well produces about 21,000 gallons of water in twenty-four hours.
The well sunk by the Manhattan Company the Commissioners consider a very successful operation. It is 442 feet in depth, 42 feet from the surface to the rock, and 400 feet in the rock.
The well at Bleecker-street is said to be capable of yielding upwards of 120,000 gallons in twenty-four hours, while the well at Thirteenth-street only yields about 21,000 gallons in the same space of time. The Bleecker-street well is but seven inches in diameter, while the Thirteenth-street well is 17 feet in diameter, besides three excavations of four feet wide and six feet high, two of them seventy-five in length and one 110 feet in length. The great space of rock which has been penetrated in excavating the Thirteenth-street well, compared with that at Bleecker-street, and the disparity in the quantity of water furnished by the former, when compared with the latter, shows conclusively that the same success, which has resulted from the boring at Bleecker-street, cannot be expected to follow every similar operation ; otherwise the supply at Thirteenth-street ought to have been immeasurably greater, instead of so much less, than that at Bleecker-street.
1834 Board of Aldermen, April 21, 1834. : The Committee on Fire and Water presented the following report, enclosing letters form D.J. Rhoads, Esq. and James Seymour, Esq. relating to supplying the city of New-York with pure and wholesome Water, Daniel J. Rhoads of Philadelphia, James Seymour, Erie Railroad, Document 109
1834 An act to provide for supplying the city of New-York with pure and wholesome water. Passed May 2, 1834.
1835 Board of Aldermen, February 16, 1835: the following report was received from the Commissioners appointed, pursuant to a law passed by the legislature, on the 2d of May 1834, in relation to supplying the City of New-York with pure and wholesome water, which was referred to the Committee on Fire and Water | Also here | and here | Includes reports by D.B. Douglass (February 1, 1835) and John Martineau (January 25, 1835).
1835 Spring water, versus river water, for supplying the city of New-York ... : also an examination of the Water Commissioners report of Nov. 1833, February, 1835, by Moses Hale
1835 Board of Aldermen, March 4, 1835: the Committee on Fire and Water, to whom was referred the report of the Water Commissioners, and the documents accompanying the same, in relation to supplying the City of New-York with pure and wholesome water, presented the following report | Also here | and here |
1835 Exposition of errors in the calculation of
the Board of Water Commissioners, by John L. Sullivan.
Page 13: [T]hey have assumed that the city now wants twenty millions of gallons a day; but why should more be brought in at the present time than is necessary?
1835 "Erie Rail Road," Evening
Star (New York, New York), April 10, 1835, Page 2.
Just published, a pamphlet by J.L. Sullivan, elucidating the comparative economy of the Erie Rail Road over all other commercial routes to the west; also, correcting certain mistakes in the calculations of the water commissioners, proper to be known as this time by voters. Capitalists, commercial men, and owners of real estates, and the friends of temperance, will all find facts to interest them in these pages. To be had at the Broadway bookstores.
1835 City voters approved the Croton Aqueduct in elections held on April 14-16, 1835, by a vote of 17,330 to 5,963. A breakdown of the vote by ward is shown here. The story of the Croton Aqueduct and later systems in New York City can be found here. | also here |
1836 "Report of the select committee on the memorial of citizens of the city and county of New-York, praying for an investigation in relation to the Manhattan company," April 18, 1836.
1838 John Martineau (1797-1838)
1838 Sketch of the civil engineering of North
America: comprising remarks on the harbours, river and lake
navigation, lighthouses, steam-navigation, water-works, canals, roads,
railways, bridges, and other works in that country, by
Page 292-293: The only supply of water which the inhabitants of New York at present enjoy is obtained from wells sunk in different parts of the town. The water is raised from these wells by steam-power to elevated reservoirs, and thence distributed in pipes to different parts of the town. Some of the wells in New York belong to the Manhatten Water Company, and some to the corporation. One well, belonging to the corporation, is 113 feet in depth. For the purpose of collecting water, there are three horizontal passages leading from the bottom of the well, which measure four feet in width, and six feet in height; two of them are seventy-five, and the third is one hundred feet in length. This well cost about £l1,500, and yields 21,000 gallons in twenty-four hours. There are many other wells in the town, some of which are said to produce 120,000 gallons in twenty-four hours. This mode of collecting water in subterraneous galleries has been successfully practised in this country, on a great scale, at the water-works of Liverpool, by Mr Grahame, the engineer to the Harrington Water Company. The supply at New York is far from being adequate to the wants of the inhabitants; and the water in most of the wells being hard and brackish, is not suitable for domestic purposes.
New York is built on a flat island, which is nearly surrounded by salt water, so that the method that has been resorted to for the supply of Philadelphia and most other towns in the United States is altogether impracticable in that situation. Many plans have been proposed, and, among others, that of throwing a dam across the Hudson, so as to exclude the salt water; but as a free passage, by means of locks, must be preserved for the numerous vessels which navigate the river, the success of such a plan seems very doubtful.
Many engineers in the United States, of great reputation, have made surveys of the country in the neighbourhood of New York, in order to devise a plan for the supply of the city with water, and they have proposed to effect this object, so important to its inhabitants, by conveying the water of the river Croton in a tunnel to New York. The point from which the water is intended to be withdrawn, is about thirty miles distant from the city. The estimate for the entire execution of the work, is upwards of one million Sterling.
1840 Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Investigate the Condition of the Manhattan Company: together with the Minutes of Their Proceedings, and Various Statements Relative Thereto, March 14, 1840.
of the City of New York and Its Vicinity [by Henry B. Dawson
and William J. Davis]
of the City of New York, by William Perris
Plate 28: Map bounded by Leonard Street, Centre Street, Chambers Street, Broadway, Reade Street, West Broadway
Shows location of former Manhattan Company reservoir on Chambers street.
of the Corporation of the City of New York, for the Year 1854.
Pages 215-223: Water Chronology of the City of New York
of the City of New York, by William Perris
Plate 9: Map bounded by Pearl Street, Chatham Street, Chambers Street, Rose Street, Frankfort Street, Murray Street, Church Street; Including Duane Street, City - Hall Place, Reade Street, Warren Street, Broadway, Elm Street, Centre Street, Tryon Row, North William, William Street
Shows location of former Manhattan Company reservoir on Chambers street.
1860 "Original Plan of Supplying the City with Water, From the River Bronx, in 1798", from Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York for 1860 by David T. Valentine, Clerk of the Common Council .
of New York City, by George Washington Bromley
Plate 4: Shows former location of the Manhattan Company reservoir on Chambers Street.
of New York City, by George Washington Bromley
Plate 2: Shows Department of Public Works as owner of 31 Chambers St., former location of the Manhattan Company reservoir.
1893 "Water Works and Banking," Engineering Record 28:313 (October 14, 1893)
Fire Insurance Maps of New York City
Manhattan, V. 1, Plate No. 9 [Map bounded by Pearl St., Rose St., Frankfort St., Elm St.]
Shows former site of reservoir on Chambers Street owned by Department of Public Works and outline of water tank in building at Reade and Center streets.
1896 The Water Supply of the City of New York,
1658-1895 by Edward Wegmann
Page 12: 1823 - Its works consisted of the large well mentioned above, from which two steam-engines of eighteen horse-power each, pumped 691,200 gallons per day into the Chambers Street reservoir, which had a capacity of about 550,000 gallons.
Page 15: About this time Levi Disbrow had been very successful in sinking artesian wells, for which work he had invented and patented improved tools. One boring, made by him for the Manhattan Company at the corner of Broadway and Bleecker Street (eight inches in diameter and 442 feet deep, lined with pipes from the top to the bottom in order to exclude impure water near the surface), is said to have yielded 120,000 gallons per 24 hours, but in some other cases the results were not so satisfactory.
Plate 4: Map showing property of the Manhattan Company, including engine house and reservoir.
1898 "A Curious Historical Water Tank," Engineering Record 37:451-452 (April 23, 1898)
1899 "Bank of Manhattan and its Water Tank," New York Times Illustrates Magazine, April 2, 1899, Page 11.
of New York City by George Washington Bromley
Plate 6, Part of Section 1: [Bounded by Reade Street, Duane Street, New Chambers Street, Roosevelt Street, Cherry Street, Franklin Square, Frankfort Street, Cliff Street, Beekman Street, Gold Street and Ann Street]
Shows former site of reservoir on Chambers Street, site of new Hall of Records.
New York houses: with historical & genealogical notes, by
William Smith Pelletreau
Pages 57-59: The Tanks of the Manhattan Water Company, with photograph
1914 "Water Tank Landmark Doomed," The New York Times, July 9, 1914, Page 16.
1915 "Manhattan Company Reservoir Demolished" from Twentieth Annual Report 1915 of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society
1917 "Water Works History" from Twenty Second Annual Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society 1917
1917 "Early Pipe Line Systems" from The Catskill Aqueduct and Earlier Water Supplies of the City of New York: With Elementary Chapters on the Source and Uses of Water and the Building of Aqueducts, and an Outline for an Allegorical Pageant by New York Mayor's Catskill Aqueduct Celebration Committee
1920 Early New-York & the Bank of the Manhattan Company, by Bank of the Manhattan Company
1956 Water for the
Cities by Nelson Blake, includes several chapters on New
Page 59: Rates were based on the size of the houses as measured by the number of fireplaces that they contained. For a house or building with not more than four fireplaces the charge was $5 per year; for every fireplace exceeding four the owner was to pay an additional $1.25, provided that not more than $20 per year should be charged for any private house or building. Separate arrangements would be made for the supply of manufacturies, stables, and taverns. Ships would be supplied at a rate of twenty cents per hogshead from several fountains located along the water front.
1957 "Burr, Hamilton and the Manhattan Company: Part I: Gaining the Charter," Beatrice G. Reubens, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 4 (Dec., 1957), pp. 578-607
1958 "Burr, Hamilton and the Manhattan Company. Part II: Launching a Bank,” Beatrice G. Reubens, Political Science Quarterly, LXXIII (March, 1958), 100–25
1989 Chapter 3, "Managing the Water Works," from "The Manhattan Company: managing a multi-unit corporation in New York, 1799-1842," by Gregory S. Hunter, A dissertation submitted to the graduate school of arts and sciences in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at New York University, February, 1989. Also published as a book, see following entry.
Manhattan Company : managing a multi-unit corporation in New York,
1799-1842, by Gregory S Hunter. Doctoral dissertation in
History, New York University. Reprinted in 2017.
Page 69: As a result, the city constructed its own water works, the Croton system, which became fully operational in 1842. The Manhattan Company curtailed its water operations, but did not abandon them for many decades. It order to protect its charge, the Manhattan Company pumped water from a well to a holding tank at Reade and Centre Streets each day until 1923.
Page 130: Finally, from 1835 to 1836, the company paid over $30,000 over an iron holding tank and building at Bleecker Street and Broadway.
Note 87: The actual cost of the tank was $32,130.12.
2000 Water for Gotham by Gerard T.
Page 114: The efforts began with a contract for the services of artesian well zealot Levi Disbrow, who was singularly convinced for years that a bounty of pure water laid trapped in the bedrock deep beneath the city. Having bored with reported success at regional distilleries, and armed with the first of several water boring patents, Disbrow started drilling the rocky eeaterh in a Manhattan Company lot up at Broadway and Bleecker Street in 1825. Seven discordant years and 442 vertical feet later, the effort reached its natural conclusion: $12,000 spent and no water suitable for distribution.
2008 The History of JPMorgan Chase & Company
2008 “A very convenient instrument”: The Manhattan Company, Aaron Burr, and the Election of 1800, by Brian Phillips Murphy, William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Series, Volume LXV, Number 2, April 2008
2013 The Contentious History of Supplying Water to Manhattan by Lauren Robinson, Museum of the City of New York
2013 The Lost 13th Street Reservoir -- 13th Street at 4th Avenue
© 2015 Morris A. Pierce