The Ridgewood Reservoir is situated on the border between Queens and Brooklyn. The area is now known as Highland Park. This reservoir was built to provide water to the City of Brooklyn. However, it is home to some of the most beautiful plants and flowers, which are a real treat for the eyes.
Rare animals also inhabit this decommissioned 19th-century reservoir. It is a place where nature and history blend in, and if you seek both, this place has several things to offer. In the following paragraphs, we will look at the history of Ridgewood Reservoir and the natural treasures it has in store for you.
History of Ridgewood Reservoir
Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir are situated on a ridge formed by an ice sheet of Wisconsin’s terminal moraine. Here you can savor views of the nearby cemeteries. These views are scary and dramatic at the same time.
Moreover, you can also have a view of the Atlantic Ocean, East New York, Rockways, and Woodhaven.
If you go back in history, you will realize that this city was acquired by the Highland Park Society and the City of Brooklyn over time. The first of these purchases occurred in 1856, when the City of Brooklyn bought the Snediker’s Cornfield to construct this reservoir.
At the time, the population of Brooklyn was increasing, and more water was needed for the people. The construction of the Ridgewood reservoir started in the year 1858. Initially, the reservoir had 154 million gallons of water.
By 1898, this reservoir was the last lake within the aqueduct system in Nassau County. In 1891, the surrounding areas of this reservoir were also purchased by the City of Brooklyn. That extra piece of land is now known as Upper Highland Park.
The jurisdiction over this new project was handed over to the Highland Park Society. The good thing about this new parcel was that it helped protect the reservoir from the pollutants that came from cemeteries and garbage plants.
Until 1984, the progress was very sluggish. Then, towards the southern part of the reservoir, the concourse and the main drive were developed by Olmsted and Eliot, an architectural company. A year later, the reservoir was secured using an iron enclosure adorned by lanterns.
In 1905, two more purchases took place. These areas now comprise the lower part of Highland Park. The lower part of Highland Park also covered the Monford and Schenk states.
In 1906, a land transfer happened between the Department of Water and the Highland Park Society. This was the last parcel that the Department of Water added to Highland Park. Between 1958 and 1959, the reservoir served as the only water source for Brooklyn.
In 1917, the first New York City tunnel was completed. It brought in water from the northern side of the city. By 1936, the second tunnel was also completed.
After the Catskill aqueduct was completed, the first and the third basins were drained. Between 1960 and 1989, the second basin was used as the water supply for Queens and Brooklyn. In 1990, the site was decommissioned by the Department of Environmental Protection.
In 2004, it was announced by Mayor Micheal Bloomberg that they would transfer it to Park, and it would soon be turned into a public park.
Flora of the Ridgewood Reservoir
The authorities drained the outer basins of Ridgewood decades ago. As a result, it has become easier to watch the forest succession at work. The eastern section of the bay has an extensive collection of native plants.
Some popular trees in this area are Black Cherry, Red Maple, Gray Birch, and Sweet Gum. Beneath these trees, grasses, rushes and sedges thrive. If you visit the northern section of the basin, you will notice some thick moss carpeting. This thick moss engulfs the rare bog-like areas in New York City.
Towards the west side lies the biggest basin. Here you can find the most significant number of plant communities. Black locusts dominate the place. Here, you can also find an expanse similar to a large green savannah.
In the southern part of this area, you will find grasses, mosses, sedges, and Gray Birch Trees. You will also find some Willow and Poplar trees. The wetland also has several wetland plants, even those on the verge of extinction.
The central basin also has standing water, and is therefore dominated by Phragmites, an invasive plant, not native to this land.
Wildlife of the Ridgewood Reservoir
As discussed earlier, the reservoir has wetlands, forests and fields. As a result, it is a suitable place for various exotic species.
This reservoir is situated along the Atlantic Flyway, which is a coastal migration route for birds. Moreover, it perches on a ridge that makes an updraft where hunting birds can soar high. Also, this reservoir and the neighboring park are known as the best places in New York for Bird watching.
According to a 2007 study, the reservoir was home to 127 species of birds. Seven of these were said to be endangered. Two of the most famous birds found at the reservoir are the Short-Eared Owl and the Red-Shouldered Hawk.
In May, you can also spot the Warbler Wave, along with other spring migrants, before starting their long journey north.
Some Highland Park Guidelines
- No dirt bikes, ATVs, or snowmobiles are allowed within the area.
- Alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited.
- No paintball games are allowed in the area.
- Do not breach the restricted areas on the property.
- You must keep pets on a leash at all times.
So, what are you waiting for? Some amazing flora and rare species of animals are waiting for you at the Ridgewood Reservoir. The variety of terrain found at this reservoir is something you don’t find in most picnic resorts. Once you get to the Ridgewood Reservoir, you wouldn’t want to leave. Just make sure to abide by the laws of the area and not hurt the wildlife and plant in any way.