One of the Park's most picturesque landscapes, the reservoir is 40 feet deep and holds a billion gallons of water. It was built in the 1860s as a temporary water supply for New York City, while the Croton Water system was shut down for repairs two weeks each year. At the time, it was unthinkable that a billion gallons of water would last less than two weeks. Today, some speculate that the City would go through that supply in just four hours. The reservoir was decommissioned in 1993, deemed obsolete because of the Third Water Tunnel.
President Bill Clinton, Madonna, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis (who the reservoir was named for in 1994) have all run on the 1.58 mile track. For years an unsightly seven-foot high chain-link fence obscured the view, but when scuba divers discovered a piece of the original fence at the very bottom of the reservoir, Central Park Conservancy commissioned a steel fence with cast-iron ornamentation, closely resembling the original. The current fence was completed in 2003, stands four-feet-high, and has opened up breathtaking views of the Park and surrounding cityscapes.
Central Park Conservancy is currently renovating the Reservoir Running Track to fix existing issues and improve one of the most popular running destinations in New York City.
The track was last repaired in 1999. Since then, the impact of millions of visitors has caused the track to erode in several various locations, leaving it rutted and uneven. Rainwater regularly pools on the track, making the damage worse.
As part of the project, the track will be repaved to address surface conditions and drainage, and a full time crew will be added to manage the track's ongoing care and maintenance. Renovation work will be done in sections to cause as little disruption to visitors as possible. Runners will be diverted to the nearby bridle path, which has been prepared in anticipation of the increase in use. The cost of the Reservoir Running Track renovation is $3 million, which has been privately raised by Central Park Conservancy.
Learn more about the Reservoir and the renovation project here.
85th Street to 96th Street, from east to west.