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Reservoir 3: Reservoir 3

Reservoir 3 - Images

Reservoir, Jersey City NJ

Courtesy, RF Smith

Jersey City Reservoirs

Detail of William H. Wood Map of Jersey City, Hoboken, and Hudson Cities 1855 showing the location of the Bergen Hill Reservoir.
Courtesy Jersey City Free Public Library

Jersey City Reservoirs

Lithograph circa 1880 showing the "new" Jersey City reservoir.
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Jersey City Reservoirs

Reservoir 3
Photos Courtesy Leon Yost
The Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy

Jersey City Reservoirs

Tablet circa 1871 on the wall of Reservoir 3 listing the names of the Jersey City Board of Public Works responsible for the contstruction of the new reservoir.
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001

Jersey City Reservoirs

Reservoir 3 at the southwest corner of Summit and Jefferson Avenues
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001

John D. Ward

John D. Ward (1795-1873)
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Bergen Square Public Well

Artist's rendiion of the first well at Bergen Village in the center of Bergen Square.
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Location: Reservoir #3

Reservoir 3

Jersey City Water Works (Reservoir 3)
Bounded by Summit Avenue, Central Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, and Pershing Field 2012
State and National Registers of Historic Places 
Jersey City Heights

Adjacent to Pershing Field Park, along Summit Avenue, looms a structure seemingly from antiquity. The massive stone walls tower over the passerby like an impregnable castle. This structure, Reservoir 3, is a former waterworks service station that today enjoys considerable attention from local preservationists and conservationists. Jersey City plans to renovate the reservoir as a recreation destination.

Jersey City developed its municipal waterworks in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1850, the engineer William S. Whitwell proposed a three-reservoir complex, a pumping station near Belleville, NJ, and a set of massive underground pipes to carry sufficient and reliable freshwater sources to Jersey City's growing population.

Reservoir 1 at Collard Street and Summit and Laidlaw Avenues was built according to plan in 1851. Its water began to flow into many of the homes in lower Jersey City as early as 1854. Between 1871 and 1874, Reservoir 3, was constructed out of sequence nearby under the direction of civil engineer John Culver on a 14-acre site bounded by Jefferson, Central, and Summit Laidlaw Avenues.  Reservoir 2 was abandoned. Its location bound by Central, Summit, and Manhattan Avenues, just north of Reservoir 3, became the public park of Pershing Field. Even after water from the Passaic River became too polluted (1899) and Jersey City acquired a better water source in Boonton, NJ (1904), Reservoirs 1 and 3 continued as integral parts of the city's waterworks well into the twentieth century.

Deemed outdated by the 1980s, Reservoir 1 was demolished with the nearby Jersey City Water Works headquarters (Gomez). The site is now occupied by the modern facilities of the St. Joseph's School for the Blind at 761 Summit Avenue.

John Gomez of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy has identified Reservoir 3 as an "endangered" site and calls it "a superb example of 19th-century aqueduct engineering." Rectangular in design, Reservoir 3 is a 30-foot-deep trap rock tub, one of the last of its kind in the United States. The structure’s massive 20-foot perimeter walls reveal influences of the Egyptian-Revival Style, while its two pump houses are characterized by Romanesque-Revival features.

In the 1980s, Reservoir 3 was decommissioned, emptied, and fell into disrepair. Since then, the dam has come to life naturally again with water from rain and snow and reforestation. Today, it is home to an emerging ecosystem, wetlands, and wildlife sanctuary under the watchful surveillance of the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance.

Reservoir 3 - References

Applebome, Peter. "An Oasis of Wilderness in Jersey City?" New York Times 15 May 2005.
Gomez, John. "Reservoir 3: Hidden 'Jewel of Jersey City.'" Jersey Journal 30 March 2005.