Word of the day: Aqueduct
mid 16th century: from Latin aquae ductus ‘conduit,’ from aqua ‘water’ + ducere ‘to lead.’
Definition: an artificial channel for conveying water, typically in the form of a bridge across a valley or other gap.
The lesson for today’s ride focused on how we are able to drink tap water without any concern in New York City. We had already learned about what the street markings on the asphalt means on our Randall’s Island/Wards Island Ride. Indicating electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewege, and water, we learned that these tags are used nationally. Perhaps the most important of them all is the blue markings which indicate clean water. Typhoid is a disease caused by a bacterium in dirty water, like when you don’t wash your hands after going to the bathroom. Typhoid Mary spread typhoid probably because she didn’t wash her hands and cooked for other people. But what if the water itself was already contaminated with disease causing bacteria? It is obvious from the story of Typhoid Mary that washing our hands is one way to prevent disease from spreading, but it is also vital to keep our water sanitary and clean to keep everyone healthy. So then, where and how do we get the clean water in our houses?
To bring this water down to the city, the Croton Aqueduct was built in mid-1800’s. The water from 30 miles upstate came through the Bronx and across the High Bridge in big water pipes. Today, the clean water comes from protected and controlled lakes and reservoirs about 125 miles upstate. This fresh water is kept clean by the state so that it isn’t contaminated like most bodies of water surrounding the city. The fresh water is treated with chlorine, fluorine, and UV light to rid of possible germs and to protect our teeth. In addition, the pipes that bring the water are coated with phosphate and are monitored and kept at low acidity so that we are protected from lead. Through the aqueducts and are pumped to a water tower, the water reaches houses even on the highest hills. It takes about $2 Billion for maintain all this and it is done by the state tax. So buying water is actually just paying extra for water that probably isn’t as healthy as tap water.
High Bridge Ride:
Today’s ride was the fourth ride of the season, and again it was a hot day! It was important that we took extra water bottles and to only drink the water. We would only be able to refill our water a few times during the ride. Trying to avoid the mid-day heat, we hurried to gear up and walked, not down 96th to East River, but up 95th towards Central Park. A change of direction was refreshing and arriving at the park, we all saddled up. Riding from the bike path in Central Park from 96th street, we made our way north to 110th. From here, we rode on St. Nicholas Drive all the way up to 155th street. Along the way we saw a few fire hydrants opened and spraying, and people and cars all found it refreshing in the heat.
Riding down 155th, we came across Macombs Dam Bridge. This bridge was narrow and we had to be careful when pedestrians passed. Still, it was mostly downhill, which made the ride much easier. Once we arrived at the bottom of the bridge, we saw the Yankee Stadium and sat down to have a quick lunch. Many of us felt like we needed more water, but in order to arrive at our closest water stop, we had to get over a really steep hill. Having recharged with food, most of our participants made it up! We made a small stop at 165th street to see the old lighthouse where they used to arrange catalogs of catalogs. It would be tedious work, but someone could walk in and look for where and how to find the information they needed at this lighthouse. Although lighthouses are usually meant to guide boats toward the pier, this lighthouse was meant as a symbolic guidance of knowledge. Let there be enlightment!
After a few more ups and downs, we finally made it to the High Bridge Park! Thankfully, the park had COLD WATER for us. Everyone had a hearty drink and then went on to have a water fight! We ran across the fountains and dumped water on each other. Cappy was sly enough to hold Joseph’s attention while Destinee snuck behind and drenched him. We also headed down the rundown staircase to find a geocache. Hidden inside the old LPC, we found the scroll and past Cyclopedia’s signature on it. Cappy told us that this staircase used to be well kept and people would come in their Sunday best to take pictures and have lunch. However, after the High Bridge was temporarily closed, the staircase was also no longer used or maintained. Once they reopened it a couple of years ago, no one attempted to reopen the staircase.
The much needed break prepared us for the ride back. Going across the High Bridge, we saw Manhattan and the Bronx clearly. From there, we were faced with trails and dirt roads. All of our participants’ bikes were mountain bikes, so we were ready for a bumpy ride. As we made our way toward Edgecomb Avenue, we biked through mud and over logs and rocks. Back on the road, we stopped at the Trinity Cemetery and saw Audubon’s statue as well as finding a geocache. This one was particularly hard to find because the geocache looked exactly like the fence! We continued making our way south and made a final stop at Alexander Hamilton’s house. It turns out that he moved his entire house TWICE. Now his house is a national historical site where we can learn about his history and accomplishments. Here, we refilled our water bottles one last time and returned to Beacon.
Everyone rode so well today. They are becoming riding experts! Excited for the next ride? Ohhhh yes.
Cappy Collins, Jiamei Huang, Sammy Kebede, Judy Lee, Alberto Rivero, Joseph Wilson
Miles biked: 12.60 miles
Program time (hours): 6 hours
Ride time (hours): 2 hours and 33 minutes
Calories burned*: 363 Calories
Estimates based on 100lbs, 5′ 2″ ht, 13 yo, average between male and female.
Water Quality Monitoring Results