My husband came home one day and said, "There's an Aqueduct Walk in the Bronx."
I'll edit out the part where we disagreed on the pronunciation of aqueduct and simply report we agreed to tolerate the other's incorrect pronunciation. And now I'll move on...
He told me this news because the kids and I were studying the water system of New York City (which really is more interesting than it may sound!).
"I know about the aqueduct," I told him. "I know it goes through the Bronx. We've been studying it, babe."
"There's an Aqueduct Walk," he repeated.
"A walk?" I said.
"Yes, a walk. You can walk on top of the aqueduct. I know where it is. Want to go?"
"Go for a walk on Aqueduct Walk? Of course I want to go," I said.
Manhattan is a small island with a big population surrounded by brackish water. We need our water to be brought into the city, and the current aqueduct that brings our water is the longest underground tunnel in the world. It's 85 miles long.
Aqueduct Walk in the Bronx is a walking trail on top of the Old Croton Aqueduct, the original tunnel from in the early-mid 1800s. This trail on top an embankment is an odd feature in the Bronx, easily overlooked by anyone other than locals.
Some stretches are quiet spots, just steps away from the busiest streets in the Bronx. The Walk is not open to vehicles, but sits above streets on either side of it. On the day we went, loads of people were on the Walk hanging out and having picnics, treating it like the backyard that is is.
It's really easy to miss - and I have missed it myself when I've taken bus routes that go right past it. My husband bikes all over the city and has known about it for awhile, but didn't really register the significance of the place until the kids and I started talking about the history of NYC's water system.
Aqueduct Walks is a forgotten place, except by the neighborhood folks, yet the old tunnel played a hugely important role in the development of New York City.
This castle-like fortress isn't part of the aqueduct, but we walked past it on our hike. It's the Kingsbridge Armory. I read in a guidebook that's it's one of the biggest armories in the world. It was such a surprise to be walking along the trail and seeing glimpses of this building in the distance.
Thirsty from our urban hike, we stopped to buy water at a bodega near Aqueduct Walk and then took the bus home, reading the labels of our bottled water to see where it came from.