Hydrological Ceremonies Beneath the City

[Image: Valve chamber for City Water Tunnel No. 3; Instagram by BLDGBLOG].

I had the pleasure last week of visiting an enormous valve chamber 200′ beneath Central Park for the official opening of City Water Tunnel No. 3.

[Image: Mayor Bloomberg opens the tunnel; Instagram by BLDGBLOG].

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was there to offer his own perspective on the value of urban infrastructure, and the colossal valves themselves were opened only a few hours later, bringing drinking water through the $5 billion tunnel, to residents of Lower Manhattan, for the very first time.

[Image: Waiting for the water to flow through Tunnel No. 3; Instagram by BLDGBLOG].

After no fewer than 43 years of construction, it was a pretty amazing ceremony to attend, sitting there at the end of Bloomberg’s reign, amidst security personnel, in a cathedral-like space beneath Central Park, reporters spread out across pews of blue plastic chairs arranged in what felt like a Romanesque side-chapel radiating off from the barrel vault of the central nave.

A manhole beneath our chairs was a surreal indication that, even here, 200′ beneath the city, much deeper levels lay hidden below (in fact, the actual water tunnel itself was another 400′ beneath us).

[Image: The labyrinth of smaller pipes that feed from and lead to Tunnel No. 3; Instagram by BLDGBLOG].

For many more photographs—that aren’t limited to Instagrams—and a much longer write-up, click through to Gizmodo.

(Vaguely related: Subterranean Machines Resurrections and The Windowless Hall of Tides).

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