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1914 Report

1-Report 1914 Completion Length

Front view of the dam showing additional excavation and building completed in 1914. Many sections had now reached their final height by year end.

Report 1914 Completion Cross Section

A cross-section of the dam showing the inspection galleries running through the dam and the step pattern on the face of the dam that will eventually receive the ornamental stonework.

1914 was the year saw most of the visible construction of the Kensico Dam. At the beginning of the year 35% of the masonry was in place. Masonry was placed from March 17th to December 2nd, and by the end of the year an additional 489,800 cubic yards were added (for a total of 806,000 cubic yards), resulting in 89% of the total masonry work being complete. On August 7th, 3572 cubic yards of masonry were added, the most for any single day during the year. As in 1913, for most of the year work progressed in two shifts, with concrete blocks added at night and concrete poured during the day. Excavation, particularly on the east side of the dam, continued during the year, with the resulting 35,000 cubic yards of dirt placed in what is now the dam plaza. The photos below show the dramatic rise of the dam during the year. The old 1885 dam was also largely removed during this period.

Report 1914 April 1Report 1914 April 2

A front view of the new dam on April 9, 1914.

Report 1914 December 1Report 1914 December 2

The same view on December 23rd. Almost the entire visible part of the dam was completed during the year. 490,000 cubic yards of concrete were added to the dam during the year resulting in the dam rising 155 feet along its 1388-foot length. Also notice on the left the almost complete removal of the old dam.

During the year, plans for the stone facing on the dam continued, with additional drawings and scale models being developed. Additional design work on Kensico Bridge, the 3-arch span that appears on the eastern end of the dam, was also completed. As part of this work it was decided that the sidewalks on both the bridge and dam needed to be widened. Dimension stone to be used to face the dam was obtained from the quarry during the year, as were other stone materials used in construction. One blast to obtain stone from the quarry used 32.5 tons of dynamite. As the dimension stone was cut it was placed on what is now the dam plaza for storage.

Camp Kensico did not change from 1913 and included 20 2-family houses and 24 24-man houses. At its peak the camp housed 788 people in September 1914, with another 1000 workers living outside the camp.

Report 1914 Dam Mostly Complete Closeup1-Report 1914 Dam Side Closeup

As the dam rose, the cableways had to be moved downstream to provide clearance for the derricks on the dam.

1-Report 1914 Dam Mostly Complete

View of the mostly complete structure from the east.

Report 1914 Dam Front Closeup

A photograph of one of the expansion joints on the east side of the dam. Both the upper and lower inspection galleries running through the dam can be seen.

Work progressed on the gate chambers in the dam during the year. The valves and gates in the lower chamber were placed, and the chamber itself was nearly completed up to the operating floor. The Bronx Conduit Extension was also added and successfully tested during 1914. This is a 48-inch cast iron pipe that connects from the lower gate chamber in the dam to the old Bronx Conduit at the 1885 dam.

1-Report 1914 Dam Back

The upstream face of the dam which in a few years time would be underwater. In the center of the dam is the valve well for the upper gate chamber. This is where the new reservoir will connect to the Bronx Conduit that was fed by Lake Kensico. The gatehouse that sat in the old reservoir can still be seen in front of the massive new dam.

By the start of 1914 only a small amount of concrete work still needed to be completed on the influent weir and chamber near the northwestern end of the reservoir off Nannyhagen Road. In the influent chamber, the three 5x13-foot sluice gates were set during the year. By October 1st of 1914 all work was completed on contract 55 which covered infrastructure on the west side of the reservoir including the influent weir and chamber, the by-pass aqueduct, the upper and lower effluent chambers, the aeration works, the Kensico Dike, and the buildings in the vicinity. Camp Columbus, which housed workers for this contract, was closed and the remaining buildings demolished once the contract was completed.

1-Report 1914 Valves

This is where the water comes out of the reservoir and flows toward NYC, located on the west side of the reservoir at West Lake Drive and Columbus Avenue. The valves controlling water flowing out of the reservoir are shown above, before the building had walls or a roof. To the left in the picture is the “old” aeration basin. As a child I remember seeing the “new” aerators in operation on the other side of West Lake Drive. The remains of this “old” aeration basin could still be seen, but looked long abandoned. Both are now gone. Some water also flows out near the center of the dam through what is called the Bronx Conduit Extension. This is a 48-inch cast-iron pipe that goes from the new dam to the old Bronx Conduit that ended at the old 1885 dam and provides water to the Bronx.

In the area of the future reservoir trees and plants were removed, with 158 out of 400 acres completed. Another 16% of the original chestnut trees were removed bringing the total to 76%. Most required stone walls were completed with a total of 1990 feet of stone walls built during the year. In cleared areas above the level of the new reservoir 208,000 new trees were planted on 154 acres.

The full 1914 Report can be found on line at archive.org.

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Synopsis written by Robert Mortell, 2013.