Landmarks Designates the Old Croton Aqueduct Walk as the Bronx’s First Scenic Landmark

Old Croton Aqueduct Walk. Image Credit: LPC.

On April 16, 2024, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Old Croton Aqueduct Walk as a scenic landmark. The Aqueduct Walk is a 4.9 acre linear park along Aqueduct Avenue between West Kingsbridge Road and West Burnside Avenue. It features a public walkway built on top of the Old Croton Aqueduct. 

The aqueduct was constructed between 1837 and 1842 to bring the first direct water supply to New York City. The freshwater source arrived at a time when the city was experiencing major population growth and was able to carry 45 million gallons of water daily from Croton, New York. The original aqueduct was covered with earth and stone embankment walls and relied on gravity to carry the water. In addition to the invaluable access to water, the aqueduct walk also provided a green space on the aqueduct’s stone embankment, and a linear trail connecting multiple neighborhoods. The Parks Department took control of the Aqueduct Walk in 1930 and landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke designed the linear park and created new walls, railings, lawns, play areas and trees. These upgrades were completed in 1940, but later on other upgrades included seating areas, playgrounds, basketball courts and lighting along the walk. 

Due to increasing demand, a second aqueduct was opened in 1890 that could carry an appropriate water supply for the growing city. When the New Croton Aqueduct was able to handle the city’s water supply needs, the Old Aqueduct was shut down in 1955. The trail continued to serve the community even after the aqueduct’s closure. Residents advocated to preserve the space twice in the early 20th century, including fighting off an effort to put a trolley line along the path. 

The Aqueduct walk is the first scenic landmark in the Bronx, and the twelfth scenic landmark citywide. The announcement of the designation of the Aqueduct Walk also marked the 50th anniversary of the designation of Central Park as the first scenic landmark in 1974. The original Landmarks Law passed in 1965 did not originally include the scenic landmark category, which was added through an amendment in December 1973. Other scenic landmarks include Bryant Park, Grand Army Plaza, Riverside Park and Riverside Drive, and the Coney Island Boardwalk. Images of all the scenic landmarks can be found here.

Landmarks unanimously voted to designate the Old Croton Aqueduct Walk. Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “Old Croton Aqueduct Walk began as an engineering marvel that revolutionized our city’s infrastructure and helped power its economic rise, but has remained central to our quality of life as ‘the Bronx’s High Line’ – an idyllic greenway and urban oasis for local residents for nearly two centuries. Fifty years after the designation of New York City’s first scenic landmark, the critical importance of these beloved public spaces has only continued to grow, and I’m thrilled that the Commission has chosen to designate Old Croton Aqueduct Walk as the Bronx’s first scenic landmark. My thanks to both the NYC Parks Department and the local Bronx community for their stewardship and long-standing support of this treasured historic site.”

Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue stated, “We’re thrilled by the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s unanimous vote on Old Croton Aqueduct Walk, giving the Bronx its first-ever scenic landmark. This treasured park stretches across several neighborhoods and two Community Boards, bringing communities closer together and providing an oasis of green recreational space in a dense urban environment. Over the years, we’ve worked to improve amenities along the walk while maintaining its historic character. We’re grateful to LPC for this designation, as well as local elected officials for their support, and community members who have played an essential role in helping to care for this important public space.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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