The Central Park Reservoir


In the novel Marathon Man, the main character muses that, "Whoever invented the reservoir must have done it with him alone in mind. It was without flaw, a perfect lake set in the most unexpected of locations." Anyone who has ever run, walked, or stood watching the sun rise or set over the water feels that same way. There's a sense of space and solitude here, unlike any other part of the Park.

President Bill Clinton, Madonna, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis (who the reservoir was named for in 1994) are among the runners who have taken to this 1.58 mile track. You might recall the unsightly seven-foot high chain-link fence that used to obscure the view. 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. 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.


85th Street to 96th Street, from east to west.

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