Williamsbridge Reservoir

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1901 map
1911-1913 map

Williamsbridge Reservoir was a natural lake (despite its name) measuring 13.1 acres (5.3 ha) just south of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York.[1] Specifically the body of water was located at 208th Street and Bainbridge Avenue.[2] It was shaped like a saucer[3] and was normally 41 feet (12 m) deep.[1] Its water level dropped approximately 14 feet (4.3 m) in mid-August 1901.[4] On April 3, 1934 Commissioner of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity, Maurice P. Davidson, proposed that it be offered to Robert Moses to be used as a park site. The reservoir had ceased to be used after 1919.[1]

History of reservoir site[edit]

A site for the Montefiore Home, first organized in 1884, was acquired in the West Bronx, between Columbia Oval and the Williamsbridge Reservoir, in January 1910. On the plot a hospital for treating various diseases replaced the previous site of the Montefiore Home, a building at Broadway (Manhattan) between 137th Street and 138th Street.[5]

In June 1928 a four-year-old boy, Frederic Fleishaus, of 3315 Rochambeau Avenue, the Bronx, drowned in Williamsbridge Reservoir. He gained access to the water through a small opening in an eight-foot fence which had been erected for protection.[3]

The Williamsbridge Reservoir property came under the control of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on June 27, 1934. A new sport and play area covering 20 acres (8.1 ha), known as the Williamsbridge Oval Park and Williamsbridge Playground and Recreation Center, opened there on September 11, 1937. A Works Progress Administration project, the facilities cost $1,500,000 to build. It features a Beaux Arts landscape and Art Moderne recreation center.[2][6]

The Keeper's House at Williamsbridge Reservoir was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.[7] Sixteen years later, the entire park was listed on the Register as well.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "2 Reservoir Sites To Serve As Parks". The New York Times. April 4, 1934. p. 23. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  2. ^ a b "New 20-Acre Playground Opened In Bronx; Moses and Lyons Dedicate It Before 2,000". The New York Times. September 12, 1937. p. N1. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  3. ^ a b "Boy Drowns In Reservoir". The New York Times. June 12, 1928. p. 28. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  4. ^ "Mr. Birdsall On Bronx Water Supply". The New York Times. August 16, 1901. p. 12. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  5. ^ "Montefiore Home's New Site". The New York Times. January 21, 1910. p. 8. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
  6. ^ "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)" (Searchable database). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2016-03-01. Note: This includes Corinne Engelbert and Daniel McEneny (February 2015). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Williamsbridge Oval Park" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-01. and Accompanying photographs
  7. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  8. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 5/11/15 through 5/15/15. National Park Service. 2015-05-22.