Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse / Amsterdam Nursing Home

Community Litigation Failed; Building Completed

The Gatehouse is located at the south-west corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 113th St. There used to be a 7,000 square foot garden next to it (pictured below) belonging to the Amsterdam Nursing Home, which wanted to demolish the garden in order to build an extension to its existing building. This was expected to put a gray concrete slab opposite the world's largest cathedral. The quality of the architecture was expected to be poor, since the government funding sources for construction do not permit significant expenditures for design.

But for the two gatehouses on Morningside Heights, the entire extant portion of the City's original water supply system of 1842 has been declared a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. On the pipe yard of the West 113th St. gatehouse (south side of 113th St.) the Borough President endorsed the erection of a 13-story expansion of the 303-bed Amsterdam Nursing Home. This is despite the fact that many new nursing home beds have been built, especially in upper Manhattan, since Amsterdam's application was approved in 1991. We are now informed by the NYS Department of Health that if the project is built, Manhattan will have an excess of 51 nursing home beds.

The neighboring community and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, together with preservation groups including the Municipal Art Society, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the World Monuments Fund, among others, opposed the project on the grounds that it would have a deleterious effect on the gatehouse,the contiguous Engine Company 47 firehouse (Napoleon LeBrun & Sons, 1889) and the Cathedral. The State Historic Preservation Officer officially determined that the project would have an "adverse effect."

Additional news (August 1997): The second picture below shows the building as it has actually gone up. Its design, an economical evocation of Columbia's traditional architecture in modern prefabricated materials, has turned out to be remarkably civilized and contextual, especially given the low hopes of the community. Some, however, have criticized it as "a cartoon" of a traditional building, and its top ornamentation is oddly heavy. It was designed by The Geddis Group of Stamford, Ct. Before and after pictures below.

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