Reservoir No. 3

Reservoir No. 3


Reservoir No. 3 was built betwen 1871 and 1874 as part of a waterworks system designed to provide potable water to a growing Jersey City, as well as to Ellis Island, a gateway to America for immigrants. The Reservoir's architecture featured a perimeter in the Egyptian Revival style and pump stations in the Romanesque revival style. The Reservoir provided drinking water to Jersey City until the 1980s, when it was drained and abandoned for a larger reservoir in Boonton, New Jersey.

Once abandoned, the neglect of the Reservoir led to its decay and deterioration. Homeless people took refuge within the Reservoir's walls. Vintage machinery from the pumping stations was stripped and sold for scrap. The Reservoir's southern wall was bulldozed by the City, and construction companies and others began to dump dirt and debris on the site.

At the same time, the Reservoir, left to nature, began to flourish as a unique urban wildlife preserve, with 13 acres of wetlands host to numerous animal and plant species not otherwise found in an urban environment. Local residents have used the reservoir for fishing, kayaking, bird watching, or simply to gain respite from the surrounding congestion and pollution.

In 2001, the Conservancy declared the Reservoir a “landmark at risk.” Shortly thereafter, several individuals and groups began to work together to preserve the Reservoir and educate the public about this unique urban oasis, holding events such as historic tours, fishing derbies and kayaking days.

At the same time, the Reservoir, previously threatened due to neglect, faced new dangers as public officals and other groups proposed demolishing and/or filling in the Reservoir for other uses.

The Reservoir Alliance's persistance paid off on February 16, 2007, when Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy announced that the Reservoir would be preserved as passive open space. The Conservancy now continues to work with the alliance to promote this unique open space and ensure that the city makes good on its commitment to preserve the property.

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