The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brooklyn Eagle article

The Eastern Section Breathing Grounds.
The Architect and His Men at Work on the Lay Out - A Place of Rare Beauty - Its Natural Advantages - Its Center for Variety of land, Bay and Ocean Scenery.

Work has been resumed on Ridgewood, or, as the residents of the neighborhood prefer to call it, Highland park, and this most desirable and, in some respects, the most naturally beautiful of all the breathing places of the people in Brooklyn promises to be at no distant day In proper condition for the enjoyment of the pleasureseekers of the eastern section of the city. While this park is the second in extent of territory owned by the city of Brooklyn, It to an open question whether one-tenth of our citizens would be able to locate ft It asked to do so. To be sure this may be accounted for principally because It Is new and little work, aside from that on the reservoirs, has been done.

Ridgewood Park is the park of the eastern section of the city and lies along the northern boundary of the Twenty-sixth ward, extending into Queens county, Including within its limits the Ridgewood reservoirs, and will also include the reservoir at the Long Island Water Supply company, if that litigated body or water ultimately becomes the property of the city. The official name of the park is Ridgewood, because the original tract purchased was for the purposes of the reservoir of that name, but the land owners and residents of be neighborhood, owing to the fact that out on Myrtle avenue. In the northeastern section of the city, there is a well known private park called Ridgewood, which is confusing, have named It Highland, which is quite appropriate, for seven-eighths of it flog on the ridge, the old time Green mountains, known In modern times as the backbone of Long Island.

The boundaries of the park may be described In a general way as extending from the Long Island Water Supply company's reservoir, and northwest of that from the boundary line of the cemetery of the Ever greens, northeastward to the United States military cemetery and Bonzer's park; and from the pipe line southeastward to Crosby street, and from the Cypress Hills road south ward to Sunnyside avenue, northeast of Warwick street. These lines include what is now actually park property, about one hundred and twenty-eight acres, which may be divided into natural forest, 28 acres; lakes, 55 acres; 13 at meadow and 32 in level plateau, hillsides not wooded, driveways and roads.

In addition to what is already owned, there are about forty acres which are under consideration and will probably be Included within the park limits when a reasonable and satisfactory price is agreed upon. This comprises the Long Island Water Supply company's reservoir and adjoining woodland, the twenty-three acres of James Lyon and others, at the northwest end of the present park boundaries, arid the three blocks between Sunnyside and Jamaica avenues, northeast of Warwick street, owned by Schenck, Montfort and Colyer.

The three blocks have each a dwelling, the Schenck house being a relic of last century, an old Dutch farm house. one of the few left within the precincts of Brooklyn by our modern iconoclastic civilization which runs so much to flats, and would be an excellent addition to the park as a fair type of the old Long Island home, to preserve for the benefit of the Brooklynltes of the century ahead of us.

Typographically Ridgewood park Is unusually beautiful and susceptible of great improvement with comparatively little work. The section between Crosby street and the pipe line from the Long Island Water Supply company's reservoir to the Ridgewood reservoir, a third of a mile, is wooded, with a picturesque ravine running through a portion of It. The northwestern section Is also broken into hill and vale with quite an extensive natural pond having trees on the margin, and there Is very pretty hill land and a grove at the north, along the Cypress Hills road, where the water works buildings are located. The immense reservoirs furnish the principal part of the water scenery in the park.

To understand fully the Idea of the residents in the locality bestowing upon this park the name of Highland the location must be explained. From Jamaica avenue the perspective southeastern line from Sunnyside avenue (one block), the present actual boundary, there is a scarcely noticeable rise, which is continued In the intervening space to what would be the line of Laurel street. Here there is an abrupt rise of about forty-five degrees to the hlghland, where Highland boulevard and the reservoirs are located. This abrupt elevation is 100 feet above Jamaica avenue and 170 feet above tide water and Is a peculiarity that attaches to this range of hills along its line, both to the northeast and southwest of Ridgewood park, notably at the Cemetery of the Evergreens, Greenwood and Prospect Park.

Highland boulevard commences at the Pipe line road, or Vermont avenue, east of the grounds of the Cemetery of the Evergreens, and runs northeast to the park lands, where it Is now being continued, following the brow of the ridge all the way, a distance of nearly a mile, and, for the most part, having an unobstructed view of the Twenty-sixth ward of the city and the village beyond. There is an appropriation of from $10,000 to $15,000 available for this park at present and it is with these funds that the park board is at work. Roads are being laid out by the engineers, and workmen are engaged extending Highland boulevard within the park limits, in the way of a driveway 40 feet wide and a walk for pedestrians 15 feet wide. The driveway will extend northeast to near the corner of the reservoir, when it will divide into three branches, one turning northwest toward the Cypress hills road, the center branch going nearly north to the front of the main reservoir, where a circular concourse is being made for those who ride to stop and have the benefit of the magnificent view. The third or main branch of the drive turns down the slope in an easterly direction until near the line of the United States cemetery on the force tube line at Jamaica avenue.

Between the hill at the reservoirs and Jamaica avenue there is a strip of meadow half a mile long, which will be from three to five hundred feet wide, according to the result of the negotiations for the two-fifths of a mile frontage on Jamaica avenue. This will make a beautiful play ground for the children, and the lovers of tennis and croquet.

Over at the northeast end of the park Is Bonzer's park, where those who care for ruins may see the crumbling walls of the old peat works, the small lake being been formed by excavations made to obtain peat, the diggers going down about one hundred feet to reach the bottom of the bed and searchers after something eerie can wander further and on the old Long Island City road find the spot here a farmer was murdered by highwayman some thirty-five years ago.

The view from the Highland boulevard and, for pedestrians, from the broad esplanade along the eastern embankment of the reservoir is one of rare beauty and is an especial feature of RIdgewood park. Beyond the park grounds one looks out over the Twenty-sixth ward of Brooklyn and where ten years ago was little more than farm lands with a few scattered houses, save the small ettle ment known as East Now York, off to the southward, can be seen the numerous fine residences of a population of 50,000 people, the tree lined streets, the busy moving surface and elevated roads, with here and there chimneys of factories arising in the distance giving an air of busy thrift to the scene. Beyond the almost level plateau on which the city is built may be seen the blue waters of Jamaica bay and further out beyond Rockaway the waters of the Atlantic sparkle in the sunlight which flashes on the white sails of all sorts of seagoing craft. Coney Island may be distinguished and the Jersey shore beyond, while to the eastward the view become hazy in the multiplication of suburban towns, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and other Queens county bidders for future annexation to the City of Churches.

It Is the dream and hope of those interested in the Twenty-sixth ward that the scheme of uniting Prospect and Ridgewood, or, as they all call It, Highland park, will at be consummated by the eastern parkway extension. As is well known, this idea has been considered for some time by the park commissioners, but the unfavorable condition of the country at present precludes any probability of speedy action, although they realize that delays are dangerous to their project, as the uncondemned route Is increasing in value by being rapidly built upon. The Eastern parkway, at the present time, may be said to go nowhere at the eastern end. The scheme is to have the parkway make a curve from its present terminus at Howard and East New York avenues and follow a line east of north to Bushwick avenue, east of the main en trance to the cemetery of the Evergreens; thence following the line of the cemetery northward to where it meets Highland boulevard, and after following the latter on through Ridgewood park, to continue on down through the city land of the force tube line, which is 300 feet wide, to the pump well at Atlantic avenue and Richmond street, and thence on to the Cypress Hills road. This plan, if carried out, would make one of the most magnificent drives--about fifteen miles--in the country, being continuous, though not direct, from Coney Island on the extreme south to the city limits in the extreme east, taking In the two principal parks of the city [dan] giving the advantage of the magnificent views from both.

As before stated, this latter scheme may be characterized more as a hope or a dream than a probability at the present time, but Ridgewood park, with the beauties and attractions that nature has bestowed upon it; its splendid bodies of water and its rare view of the almost magic city and the waters beyond; is an existing, living reality, which the skiillful hand of the park architect Is toning down and adorning and will speedily turn into a public pleasure ground that for its size will have few equals.

Publication: Brooklyn Eagle; Date: Jul 22, 1894; Section: None; Page: 7

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