Nineteen Reservoirs

On Their Creation and the Promise of Water for New York City

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Pub Date 16 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 08 Aug 2022

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Without the nineteen upstate reservoirs that supply its water, New York City as we know it would not exist today. 

From 1907 to 1967, a network of reservoirs and aqueducts was built across more than one million acres in upstate New York, including Greene, Delaware, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties. This feat of engineering served to meet New York City’s ever-increasing need for water, sustaining its inhabitants and cementing it as a center of industry. West of the Hudson, it meant that twenty-six villages, with their farms, forest lands, orchards, and quarries, were bought for a fraction of their value, demolished, and submerged, profoundly altering ecosystems in ways we will never fully appreciate.

This paradox of victory and loss is at the heart of Nineteen Reservoirs, Lucy Sante’s meticulous account of how New York City secured its seemingly limitless fresh water supply, and why it cannot be taken for granted. In inimitable form, Sante plumbs the historical record to surface forgotten archives and images, bringing lost places back to life on the page. Her immaculately calibrated sensitivity honors both perspectives on New York City’s reservoir system and helps us understand the full import of its creation.

An essential history of the New York City region that will reverberate far beyond it, Nineteen Reservoirs examines universal divisions in our resources and priorities—between urban and rural, rich and poor, human needs and animal habitats. This is an unmissable account of triumph, tragedy, and unintended consequences.

With 29 present-day photographs by Tim Davis

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ISBN 9781615198658
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Featured Reviews

The design of this book was amazing and it was such a fun read! I found this book super interesting and you could tell how passionate the author was about the topic.

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Interesting historical information on NYC waters

This is an interesting title written by Lucy Sante. Nineteen Reservoirs explores the history of the New York City's water supply. The reservoirs, nineteen to be exact, supply NYC, however, they are from different areas of the state of New York. To me, the book was to share the information about the history of the water that is sent to the city, made up of islands and Burroughs, and how it affected the areas where the water came from. Ecosystems changed. Different lands, including existing farms were bought, in order to provide the city. I'm from upstate New York, and wasn't aware of this history, and it is very intriguing. I always love a good historic book, especially nonfiction, and local. Because in New York, there is more than just the city. I hope to read more books by this author. Nineteen Reservoirs is a definite recommendation by Amy's Bookshelf Reviews. I read this book to give my unbiased and honest review. Amy's Bookshelf Reviews recommends that anyone who reads this book, to also write a review.

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