Five Points, Manhattan - History - Collect Pond

Collect Pond

The topography of the area that would become Five Points was a major factor in the progression of the neighborhood from middle class homes built upon reclaimed land to a sprawling, disease-ridden slum in a relatively short period of time.

The Collect Pond (or Fresh Water Pond) was a body of spring fed fresh water, occupying approximately 48 acres (194,000 m²) and as deep as 60 feet (18 m). The pond was located in an inverted U-shaped valley with a linear portion in the north heading northwest to the Hudson River. The eastern and western sections of the valley were separated by a hill the Dutch called Kalck Hoek, (Dutch meaning Chalk Hook), named for the numerous oyster shell middens left by Native Americans. The elevation rose in the south, with Pot Bakers Hill dominating the south southwestern shore.

The Collect Pond was located in the eastern section of the valley, with Kalck Hoek to the west and Bayard Mount—at 110 ft. the tallest hill in lower Manhattan—to the northeast. A stream flowed north out of the pond and then northwest through a salt marsh (which, after being drained, became "Lispenard Meadows") to the Hudson River, and another stream, known as the Old Wreck Brook or the Old Kil flowed out from the southeast through Bestevaer Swamp (later Beekman's Swamp) called Bestevaer Kreupelbosch by the Dutch to the East River. The southwestern shore of the Collect Pond was the site of a Native American settlement known as Werpoes. A small band of Canarsie who were Munsee Indians, -the northernmost division of the Lenape- occupied the site until the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was established.

The pond was the main source of drinking water for the City of New York and freshwater fish. Beginning in the early eighteenth century, various commercial enterprises were built along the shores of the Collect Pond, in order to use the water. These businesses included Coulthards Brewery, Nicholas Bayard's slaughterhouse on Mulberry Street (which was nicknamed "Slaughterhouse Street"), numerous tanneries on the southeastern shore, and the pottery works of German immigrants Johan Willem Crolius and Johan Remmey on Pot Bakers Hill on the south-southwestern shore.

The contaminated wastewater of these businesses flowed back into the pond, creating a severe pollution problem and environmental health hazard. Pierre Charles L'Enfant proposed cleaning the Collect Pond and making it a centerpiece of a recreational park, around which the residential areas of the city could grow. His proposal was rejected and it was decided to fill in the pond. This was done with fill partially obtained from leveling Bayards Mount and Kalck Hoek. The landfill was completed in 1811 and Middle class homes were soon built on the reclaimed land.

The landfill was poorly engineered. The buried vegetation began to release methane gas (a byproduct of decomposition) and the area, still in a natural depression, lacked adequate storm sewers. As a result, the ground gradually subsided. Houses shifted on their foundations, the unpaved streets were often buried in a foot of mud mixed with human and animal excrement and mosquitos bred in the stagnant pools created by the poor drainage.

Most middle and upper class inhabitants fled the area, leaving the neighborhood open to poor immigrants that began arriving in the early 1820s. This influx reached a height in the 1840s, with large numbers of Irish fleeing starvation in the Irish Potato Famine.

Read more about this topic:  Five Points, Manhattan, History

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Collect Pond - Modern Day
... In 1960, a portion of the site of the Collect was given to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for conversion into a park ... However, the park was renamed "Collect Pond Park", its current name, to represent its history more accurately ... The newly re-built park is to include a pond evocative of the former Collect Pond ...

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