I had a wonderful and surprising adventure when I briefly lived in Cypress Hills in Brooklyn in the summer of 2014. It all started when I first moved there. I noticed a very oddly named street: Force Tube Avenue (see street sign in photo). You got to admit: that’s a strange name. So, I researched it. I discovered that many years ago a large pipe ran the length of the street, through which water was forced at high pressure by a large steam-powered pump. The pipe and similar ones in the neighborhood were called force tubes. They are gone, but are remembered in the name of the street. I further learned that these pipes supplied water to nearby Ridgewood Reservoir, the remnants of which still exist in a park called Highland Park, which was literally across the street from where I was living and which straddles Brooklyn and Queens. The reservoir, which began operations in 1858, was decommissioned in 1989 and partially drained. Shortly thereafter, Mother Nature took over; soon a forest and wetland sprung up. I told myself I had to see this, so I visited the area. I was unprepared. I have never seen such a unique park in New York. The forest and wetlands were astonishingly beautiful.
And that’s not all. When I witnessed the beauty of Ridgewood Reservoir, I promised I would return in autumn. And I did. The forest had become a riot of seasonal color. It was breathtaking.
Ridgewood Reservoir in Summer
Ridgewood Reservoir in Autumn
How to get there. From Manhattan or Brooklyn, take the J train to Norwood Avenue. From Queens, take the B20 bus to Summerfield Street/Cypress Avenue.