Water Water Everywhere

Chelsea Water Towers

Those wooden tanks dotting the roofs of buildings all over New York City, as ubiquitous to the skyline as the Empire State Building, actually serve a purpose other than providing a dramatic arc for Law & Order plots.

Most buildings over 6 stories tall have one. Why? Because, we built this city on rock (no roll).

The bedrock is really, really hard meaning we can’t drill for water, and so our water comes from Upstate, through water tunnels. Without any assistance, the water will rise up to the 6th story, but no higher and since lots of buildings here are taller than that, it makes more sense to pump the water up to a tank on the roof once, than to pump the water numerous times to numerous places each time someone opens a tap or spigot. And so, we have water tanks.

Most are still made of wood, mainly by the Rosenwach Tank company, but some are made of metal, and I think there was (is?) even one made of resin.

Whatever the material, I really like them. They remind me of the past, which in a city that changes as rapidly as this one can, is comforting.

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~ by ann on December 28, 2006.

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