Old Croton Aqueduct Walk receives Bronx’s first scenic landmark designation

Old Croton Aqueduct Walk 1 – photo credit Landmarks Preservation Commission
Photo courtesy Landmarks Preservation Commission

The Bronx recently received the borough’s first-ever scenic landmark designation for the Old Croton Aqueduct Walk, where famed writer Edgar Allen Poe was known to stroll. 

As the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) celebrates 50 years of scenic landmarks throughout the city, the designation of the Old Croton Aqueduct Walk brings the total number of city scenic landmarks up to 12. Central Park was the first to be designated on April 16, 1974, and the 50th anniversary vote by LPC to designate the first scenic landmark in the Bronx was unanimous. 

The walkway is a 4.9-mile linear park known as “The Bronx’s High Line,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Chair Sarah Carroll, who called it an “urban oasis.”

The public walk officially came under the NYC Parks Department in 1930 and runs along Aqueduct Avenue between West Kingsbridge Road and West Burnside Avenue. It connects several neighborhoods, including University Heights and Kingsbridge. 

The Old Croton Aqueduct itself was an engineering marvel that helped to transform New York City into the bustling metropolis it is today. 

The aqueduct, built between 1837 and 1842, used only gravity to carry 45 million gallons per day of clean water from Croton, New York to support the city’s economic development and rapidly growing population. Prior to its construction, water came from ponds, streams and other sources that spread disease. But the aqueduct saved public health and was built with remarkable speed mainly by Irish immigrants who earned a dollar per day, according to city parks information

As population increased and water needs eventually outpaced the capability of the Old Croton Aqueduct, the New Croton Aqueduct opened in 1890. The Old Aqueduct was taken out of service in 1955. 

The aqueduct, and the park that sits atop it, has remained a source of pride for locals — one worth fighting for. 

In the early 20th century, advocates lobbied against a trolley track that was proposed alongside the path and later blocked the sale of the land to developers. Thanks to their efforts, the land remained for public use.

Bronx officials, City Council member Pierina Sanchez, whose district includes the Old Croton Aqueduct, celebrated the new LPC designation.

The Old Croton Aqueduct Walk is a “timeless bridge between past and present,” Sanchez said in a statement announcing the designation.

Recognizing the historical significance of the walkway, she called it “the geographic spine of our community, connected to a deep history and our present identity.” 

Today, the walk includes seating, lighting, basketball courts, playgrounds and other features for Bronxites to enjoy the space.

“Over the years, we’ve worked to improve amenities along the walk while maintaining its historic character,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.

Reach Emily Swanson at eswanson@schnepsmedia.com or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes