Collect Pond Park



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The Collect Pond or Fresh Water Pond was a body of fresh water near the southern tip of Manhattan in New York City, covering approximately 48 acres (194,000 m²) and running as deep as 60 feet (18 m). The pond was fed by an underground spring, and its outflow ran through the Lispenard Meadows, a saltwater marsh, to the Hudson River. The name Collect is a misrepresentation of the Dutch word kolk, signifying a small body of water, which was subsequently corrupted to kalch, and so on until it became collect. The pond was located just north of today's Foley Square and just west of modern Chinatown.

Proposals were made to solve the Collect Pond Park issue, including the conversion of the pond to a park designed by Pierre L’Enfant, and the creation of a canal between the East and Hudson Rivers. In the end, it was filled in from land removed from nearby Bayard's Mount, the highest hill in lower Manhattan, rechristened after the Revolution "Bunker Hill" and leveled between 1803 and 1811. By 1813, the Collect was virtually gone.
Several decades would go by before New York City obtained a new, plentiful supply of fresh water from the Croton Aqueduct. The Five Points neighborhood, a notorious slum, developed just off the former eastern bank of the Collect and owed its existence in some measure to the poor landfill job (completed in 1811) which created swampy, mosquito-ridden conditions on land that had originally attracted more well-to-do residents.
New York's Tombs Prison, built on Centre Street in 1838, also stood over the site of the pond and was constructed on a huge platform of hemlock logs in an attempt to give it secure foundations. The prison building began to subside almost as soon as it was completed and was notorious for leaks on its lowest tier and for its general dampness throughout its life. When the original Tombs building was condemned and pulled down at the end of the century, builders sank enormous concrete caissons to bedrock, up to 140 feet below street level, in order to give its replacement more secure foundations.

Portions of Collect Pond Park land were converted into a city park, currently known as Collect Pond Park. In 1960, a portion of the site of the Collect was turned over to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for conversion into a park. Originally, Collect Pond Park was named "Civil Court Park" due to its proximity to the surrounding courthouse buildings. However, Collect Pond Park was renamed "Collect Pond Park" to more accurately reflect its history. Collect Pond Park is located on the block bordered by Lafayette Street, Leonard Street, Centre Street, and White Street.

During the 18th century, the pond was used as a picnic spot in the summer, and a skating rink in the winter. However, industry almost immediately started to make use of the water, and dumped its waste there as well. This included tanneries, breweries, ropewalks, and slaughterhouses. By the late 18th century, the pond was already considered “a very sink and common sewer”.