The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

house below

with 3 comments

Me? I’m the curious type.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, my understanding of such things is that the City’s water system offer sufficient pressure to carry water about six stories up from the water mains in the street. Anything higher than that requires one to get clever. In tall buildings, electric pumps bring the wet stuff up to the roof, where NYC’s iconic water tanks get filled up. The return pipe from the water tank goes down into the building and fills the plumbing that supplies both drinking water and fire suppression systems. The water towers themselves are apparently quite filthy inside, and seldom inspected. A NY Times investigation back in 2014 took samples from the sedimentation found inside these wooden tanks, which revealed the presence of Fecal Coliform and E. Coli bacteria in 5 of the 12 that they tested. Theoretically, the bacteria found in the water towers got there due to intrusion by critters (squirrels, birds, etc.). 

Who can guess, all there is, that might be sloshing around up there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two firms who pretty much own the water tower business in NYC, Rosenwach Tank and the Isseks Brothers, or so I’m told. I’m also led to believe that the average load for these tanks are about ten thousand gallons, but it depends on the installation and the size of the building being served. You supposedly get about three to four decades of life out of a water tower, depending on conditions and regular maintenance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s a bit of water tower trivia for you, lords and ladies.

Notice how many steel rings there are at the bottom of the water tower as opposed to the top?

The uneven spacing is due to the aggregate weight of the water held within the thing. The weight of the water in the top third of the tank presses down on that found in the middle, both of which compress the stuff at the very bottom. Some fairly astronomical pressure exists at the very bottom of these big barrels, requiring extra structural support.

Upcoming Tours and Events

Newtown Creekathon – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. If they have to electrically pump the water up to the tanks, what’s the need for the tanks then? The water’s already up there. Also why no water tanks on your depicted Empire State Building?

    georgetheatheist . . . " curious too

    March 28, 2018 at 12:17 pm

  2. Years ago there was a fascinating episode of Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs where he works with a Rosenwach crew and gets right up into the tank for a clean and re-fit, I recall.

    Enjoyable and informative…Season 3, Episode 25.


    April 9, 2018 at 9:46 am

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