Clio Logo

The Old Croton Dam is located in Yorktown, New York. In the early 1800s, with New York City's population quickly outpacing available and safe water sources, city authorities determined that damming the Croton River 40 miles north was needed. The construction of the dam and the aqueduct system began around 1837 and was a triumph of engineering for the time. The dam was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.


  • Old Croton Aqueduct crossing of Nepperhan Avenue in Yonkers.
  • Typical cross-section of the Old Croton Aqueduct.
  • Ventilator on the Old Croton Aqueduct.
  • An 1852 engraving of the Old Croton Dam.
  • Old Croton Dam revealed at low water in 1949.

The Old Croton Dam is located in Yorktown, Westchester County, New York. The history began in the early 1800s when New York City was prospering, growing steadily in population, and desperate for safer and cleaner water. The cities water was polluted, which caused repeated epidemics of cholera and other diseases.

In response to this growing threat the state legislature authorized for the purchase of additional land to start a project in 1837 to build the dam and aqueduct system to bring water into the city. Most of the workers who worked to build the dam from 1837-1842 were Irish immigrants, usually working for 75 cents to a dollar a day.

The underground aqueduct was a big tube of brick and stone. The aqueduct is seven and a half feet wide and eight and a half feet high. It is held together with water resistant hydraulic cement. The aqueduct is mostly invisible but large raised culverts had to be built in several places to cross over roads and major streams. Stone chimney-like ventilators that provide fresh air can be seen along the route.

The Croton system was expected to serve the city forever, but by 1890 a new dam had to be built. Construction began on a New Croton Dam in 1893 and was completed in 1907. The new Croton Dam system provides about 10 percent of New York City's water today.

Today, the Croton Aqueduct Trailway is a NYS Park that stretches from Croton into New York City.

  1. Willimas, Gary. Jackson, Kenneth T.. Picturing Our Past National Register Sites in Westchester County. New York. 2003.
  2. Fyfe, John F.. Yorktown Historical Society, Wayback Machine. Accessed May 21st 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20120402102046/http://www.yorktownhistory.org/newsletters/fall04.pdf.
  3. Croton Gorge Park, Westchester County. Accessed May 21st 2020. https://parks.westchestergov.com/croton-gorge-park.
Image Sources(Click to expand)

Westchester County Historical Society. Photo by Gray Williams.

Westchester County Historical Society. Photo by Gray Williams.

Westchester County Historical Society.

Westchester County Historical Society.