City Line Park

City Line Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

City Line Park, located within the Brooklyn neighborhood of City Line, a section of Flatbush close to the Queens County border, was once the site of the Ridgewood Pumping Station.

During the 19th century, Brooklyn grew quickly due to advances in transportation and to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.  Between 1870 and 1900, Brooklyn’s population grew from approximately 400,000 to one million.  Brooklyn’s thirst for water grew with its population.  Frequent incidence of plague also required new clean water sources.  Queens and Long Island, which were more rural landscapes, became the source of water for Brooklyn.  Despite complaints from Queens and Long Island natives, private water companies and later the City bought up ponds and streams in both Queens and Long Island, enlarging or diverting them for the purpose of creating reservoirs and conduits that would serve the burgeoning populace of Brooklyn.  Allegedly, this caused some environmental damage in Queens in the short-term, such as a drop in the water table, changes in salinity which affected the oyster industry and changes in water pressure that reduced the activity of water mills.  However, in the long term, some of the lands selected for their water resources later became parks after the City’s water system was centralized.

The land for City Line Park, which was the site of the Ridgewood Pumping Station, was purchased by the City of Brooklyn in 1886.  The Ridgewood Reservoir had been built in 1858 for Brooklyn’s populace, and the pumping station ensured the distribution of water from the reservoirs to all but four districts in Brooklyn.  In 1898, with the incorporation of Brooklyn into the City of New York, the pumping station came under the jurisdiction of the New York City Board of Water Supply.  The Croton Reservoir which serviced Manhattan since the 1840’s was supplemented by the addition of the Catskill System in 1917, at which time Brooklyn’s water needs were satisfied and its reliance on Queens for more water sources abated.  

In 1937, the Water Department transferred the parcel to the Parks Department and, in 1938, the Department of Sanitation transferred an additional parcel to Parks.  A final parcel of land was assigned to Parks in March of 1949.  City Line Park was thus assembled.  The pumping station existed until the 1960’s when it was torn down under then Mayor Lindsay’s directive.  In 2007 the park was slated for a $1.5 million renovation, with funds secured by Council Member Erik Martin Dilan.  

City Line Park is adjacent to East New York High School of Transit Technology which offers vocational training and prepares its students for work in the subway transit system.  The school makes use of the park’s ball fields and handball and basketball courts.

City Line Park is a reminder of the competition between the counties of Brooklyn and Queens, and the many efforts to slake the thirst of 19th and early 20th century Brooklyn.

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