Reservoir: Nature, Culture, Infrastructure

This four-part series centers on reservoirs in upstate New York, including Ashokan (1915), Pepacton (1955), and Cannonsville (1965), all constructed to supply water to New York City. Each feat of engineering required the state to appropriate and flood a valley — constructing landscapes that, today, might be mistaken for unspoiled lakes. Yet the trauma imposed by these land seizures is still felt, even as nearly nine million people depend daily on the water system. New York’s reservoirs exemplify the social compact that undergirds ambitious public infrastructures, while the stories of their making emphasize divisions between city and country, wealth and poverty, the potentials and risks inherent in large-scale environmental intervention.

The series is made possible by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Following publication of the series, Lucy Sante developed the articles into the book Nineteen Reservoirs, which was published by The Experiment in summer 2022.

Supported by

Supported by

In This Series