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Albany Water Works, 1835-1851

Identifier: SC MS 0154

Scope and Contents

This collection of recorded history of the City of Albany’s water supply covers a period from 1835 to 1851. It contains eight printed pamphlets, one bound handwritten manuscript containing numerous pasted-in newspaper clippings, and a map in good condition. A map of the neighboring environs of Albany, New York, attributed to William J. McAlpine, a prominent civil engineer, is included with one of the pamphlets. Four pamphlets are printed by different Albany printers. The handwritten manuscript is attributed to the private Albany Water Works Company apparently as committee meeting notes interspersed with newspaper articles from the Albany Evening Journal. The newspaper articles describe the water situation in Albany at the time. The engineering representatives of the private company conduct an exchange of comments with the Albany citizens regarding the water supply situation in the meeting notes and the newspaper articles. The four other printed pamphlets detail the articles of agreement and specifications for contractors involved with the expansion of the water supply for the City of Albany, New York from 1835 to 1851.


  • Creation: 1842 - 1850


Biographical / Historical

Prior to 1850, the Albany Waterworks Company tapped a number of water sources to supply the city’s water supply from various creeks of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, supplying water by iron pipes and reservoirs within the city environs to individual properties. During the 1830s and 1840s the Albany Water Works Company hired a series of engineers to determine a reliable, clean and economic water source. In 1850, the State of New York appointed Water Commissioners for the City of Albany to deal with the requests for an expanded water supply for the growing population of Albany. This group appointed William J. McAlpine, a prominent civil engineer and designer of the Brooklyn Water Works, to analyze the situation. The Water Commissioners secure water rights from Stephen van Rensselaer, owner of land along Patroon Creek, as well as his use of this water to power his woolen mills to build a reservoir. The Six-Mile Waterworks construction begins in 1851 with the damming of Patroon Creek, creating Rensselaer Lake, a reservoir for supplying the city of Albany with a steady source of water, and giving the city control of its own municipal water supply.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This is a ten document collection comprised of eight pamphlets, a manuscript, and a detailed map regarding 19th century Albany, New York’s municipal water supply. The documents are dated from 1842 to 1850 but an earlier history of water supply for Albany is reflected within the documents.

Albany Water Works
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)