Bryant Park Then And Now, “Meet The Birds”, And A Hatpin Search

9 Jul

I recently spent several very unproductive hours at our local library trying to dig up some family genealogy information. Hours spent, nothing much found.

Any genealogists out there reading this? Let’s chat. I’d like to pick your brain…

The most productive part of that day for me was my time walking through Bryant Park, which is right behind the library.

That’s the library in the background, with the arched windows.

Back in the 1800’s, the Croton Reservoir was there. Thanks to this very interesting website, I can show you this picture from  1875 of the corner of 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, where the library now stands:

The website says:

The city’s first distributing reservoir took up the site. This reservoir held New York City’s first fresh, clean supply of water, which originated in Westchester’s Croton River. 

The reservoir, built in 1842, is pretty impressive. Walls 50 feet high and 25 feet thick were topped by a promenade; it could hold 20,000,000 gallons.

Once the Croton River became a dam, the city didn’t need a reservoir on 42nd Street anymore. It was demolished in 1899 to make way for the iconic library building that greets New Yorkers today.

The Bryant Park website also has fascinating info on the history of this parcel of land. Did you know that:

In 1686, the area now known as Bryant Park was designated public property by New York Colonial Governor Thomas Dongan. After being routed by the British in the Battle of Long Island, at the start of the Revolutionary War, General Washington’s troops raced across the site. In 1807, the grid system of streets was laid out in what is now considered midtown, expanding north from the already cosmopolitan downtown Manhattan. Fifteen years later, in 1822, the land came under the jurisdiction of New York City, and one year later, was turned into a potter’s field. The city decommissioned the potter’s field in 1840, in preparation for construction of the Croton Reservoir on the adjacent plot of land (now the Central branch of the New York Public Library).


During the Civil War, Reservoir Square was used as an encampment for Union Army troops. Shortly after, in March of 1863, the Union government issued the first draft notices in American history, setting off a series of riots throughout the city.”

It’s amazing to stand in the park and think of its history.

Kids who ride the carousel don’t ponder the history – they are totally In The Now.

Speaking of In The Now, look at this sign:

I don’t know the specifics, but some Tuesday around lunch time, I will eagerly go to “Meet The Birds”.

I will likely report back to you on that meeting.

And speaking of meeting, this was around the time I ran into Hubby. Nice meeting you in the park, Hubby!

But now, I am on a hatpin search. For, I just bought the largest hat in the world.

I think I need a hatpin to keep it from blowing away… or maybe, I’ll just be blown away with it…




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