About Reservoir #3
Why Save the Reservoir?
The Reservoir is a beautiful lake surrounded by trees and meadow-topped walls in the center of the Jersey City Heights. Since Jersey City discontinued use of the Reservoir for drinking water over twenty years ago, nature has reclaimed the Reservoir area. Walking up the old stone steps today, one gets the opportunity to step out of our hectic world and into an oasis of quiet.
Closed in with high stone walls, this “hidden jewel” is a stunning example of wildlife in this very urban area. Great blue heron, swallows, peregrine falcons, and numerous other birds find haven here, and the residents of Jersey City, from students to seniors, would reap incalculable benefit from keeping this natural oasis alive and protected.
The Reservoir stands just south of Pershing Field Park in the Heights section of Jersey City. The 1874 Egyptian Revival walls and Romanesque gate houses are of major historic significance to our City and region.
Presently the Reservoir is only partially protected from development. The entire 13 acres of the Reservoir need to be protected now, before they are sold off as a short-term solution to a budget gap and built over with a parking garage, high-rise, school, or some other inappropriate use.
Swaying wildflower meadows, thriving trees including oak, cherry, apple, and birch, and emerging wetlands that include healthy stands of broad-leaved cattails surround a large lake at this peaceful 14-acre site.
Reservoir #3 Timeline
- Pre-1850 – Jersey City water is acquired from brackish wells & traveled in on wagons.
- 1850 – Reservoir 2 built. Passaic River water is pumped by steam engine to Coppermine Ridge in Kearny, then flows by gravity to Reservoir 2.
- 1870s – Reservoir 3 built. There is rampant political corruption within Jersey City. Plans include Pershing Field site as well, but the City runs out of money.
- 1890s – Passaic River is polluted by salt water, industry & urban development. A Typhoid epidemic occurs.
- 1900s – Second gate house built. Jersey City locates new water source at Boonton Reservoir; first use of chlorine.
- 1980s – Reservoir 2 shut down.
- 1990s – Reservoir 3 shut down and drained. Herbie Hules leads group to prevent strip mall, parking garage or other construction. Nature reclaims land as plans languish.
- 2002 – Save the Reservoir campaign begins.
- 2005 – The Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance is formally incorporated and starts arts, educational, and recreational programming.
- 2009 – Healy administration backs the JCRPA & funds a historic structures report.
- 2012- Reservoir #3 site listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places
- 2014 – Fulop administration works with JCRPA to request proposals from premier architectural firms. Funding halts.