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illustration of Fireworks at Brooklyn City Hall
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Fireworks at Brooklyn City Hall

With the rapid growth in population and industry in Brooklyn, the need for fresh water pumped into neighborhoods was apparent, not only for drinking but for fire fighting. More than one large fire, including the Great Fire of 1848, burned out of control because of insufficient water. In the mid-1850s, the Board of Water Commissioners was established to raise millions of dollars for the development of reservoirs and aqueducts. Water was pumped from Long Island to a reservoir at Ridgewood and a distributing reservoir at Mount Prospect on Eastern Parkway. Brooklyn lavishly celebrated the water's arrival with fireworks and marching bands.

The caption under the illustration reads: "Fire-works at the Brooklyn City Hall, on the inauguration of the water-works, April 28, 1859."

For more information about the celebrations of Brooklyn's water works, read this article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: "Fireworks at the City Hall" (April 29, 1859).

Citation - Document 10
Harper's Weekly
May 14, 1859
Courtesy of Tom and Angela Sarro

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