Before Central Park was built, the heart of Manhattan was the Receiving Reservoir of the Old Croton Aqueduct. Water was stored here before flowing to the Distributing Reservoir at 42nd Street. The 55-acre reservoir was as long as 6 city blocks and stretched between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. At its southwest corner, the reservoir's walls, instead of being cut blocks of stone, took advantage of the natural bedrock form. Belvedere Castle was built atop this point as an overlook.
Although the reservoir was filled in long ago, the Great Lawn still gives clues to this past history.
Much of the north wall has been preserved as the retaining wall for the 86th Street Transverse. The Central Park Police are located at this spot now. Along the western edge of the Great Lawn, especially in the area across from the Delacorte Theater, the tops of the great stone walls can be seen.
- W. 86th St. entrance to the Great Lawn
- E. 79th St. exit - Follow Fifth Avenue to 42nd St. and the New York Public Library (former site of the Distributing Reservoir)
Nearest Train Station:
The B and C trains will let you off at 86th Street and Central Park West. The D, F, V and 7 trains will let you off at Bryant Park and the New York Public Library, the former site of the Distributing Reservoir at 42nd Street.