After Decades, a Water Tunnel Can Now Serve All of Manhattan
Pool photo by Mary Altaffer
Of all New York City’s sprawling mega-projects, the water tunnel snaking beneath the grid — connecting the Bronx to Upper Manhattan, Upper Manhattan to Central Park, Central Park to Queens, and, eventually, Queens to the western edge of Brooklyn — is perhaps the hardest to love.
There will be no new subway to board when the work is done, no elevator to ride to the top of a skyscraper. Even the name is shrouded in anonymity: Water Tunnel No. 3, the last in a trilogy that few New Yorkers would pay to see.
In one of the most significant milestones for the city’s water supply in nearly a century, the tunnel — authorized in 1954, begun in 1970 and considered the largest capital construction project ever undertaken in the five boroughs — will for the first time be equipped to provide water for all of Manhattan. Since 1917, the borough has relied on Tunnel No. 1, which was never inspected or significantly repaired after its opening.