The Destruction of a Beautiful Kettle Lake led to the Origin of JP Morgan-Chase Bank

Kettle lakes are common geological formations found in North America in any region once covered by a glacier.  When glaciers recede they often leave large chunks of ice behind.  Both wind and water borne sediment covers these blocks of ice, temporarily insulating them, but eventually the ice melts and forms a lake.

Diagram showing how a kettle lake forms.

20,000 years ago, the edge of a mighty glacier advanced as far as what today is Manhattan Island, New York.  A narrow strip of unglaciated land, about 50 miles wide, existed on the continental shelf between Manhattan and the Atlantic Ocean.  After the glacier receded it left a kettle lake behind on the southern end of Manhattan.  The lake held clear glacial meltwater and was continuously fed by underground springs.  It was 70 feet deep–evidence the block of ice left behind had been quite large.  For thousands of years, Indians used this lake as a source of freshwater because the rivers surrounding Manhattan are tidal in nature and too salty to be potable.  An Indian settlement existed on the southwestern edge of the lake in 1604 when the Dutch first established a colony on Manhattan.  The Dutch called the lake “Koelch,” meaning small body of water, but when the English took over the island, the word was mispronounced, and thereafter was called “Collect Pond.” A steep 110 foot tall hill, known as Bayard’s Mount, occurred on the north side of Collect Pond, and another steep hill, Kalch Hoek, bordered the west side.  A freshwater marsh existed to the south of Collect Pond, and 2 creeks served as outlets for the kettle lake’s overflow.  Lispenard Creek drained into the Hudson River and Old Wreck Brook drained into the East River.  Fish likely colonized Collect Pond through these creeks.  Species of fish recorded to have lived in Collect Pond included pumpkinseed sunfish, redfin pickerel, eel, and killifish. Collect Pond was a beautiful and valuable natural resource.  It provided fresh drinking water for all of Manahattan for almost 200 years, as well as winter ice skating, and summer recreational fishing.  Man then turned this heaven into hell.

File:Collect Pond-Bayard Mount-NYC.jpg

A portrait of Collect Pond painted in 1798 by Archibald Robertson.  The weeping willow is not a native species and must have been planted early in the century.  After  poison from a tannery polluted the pond, developers filled it in with dirt from the hill (Bayard’s Mount) in the foreground.  That hill also no longer exists.

Circa 1800, the stupid greedy owner of a tannery factory was responsible for dumping tannins into Collect Pond, poisoning New York City’s drinking water.  Because Collect Pond no longer provided drinkable water, city leaders decided just to fill in the lake with dirt from the beautiful surrounding hills, thus destroying this once pristine site forever.  They called this leveled land “Paradise Square,” but within decades it transmogrified into the infamous 5 Points neighborhood depicted in the violent movie Gangs of New York.  To make matters worse, organic plant material from the fill material rotted away, causing parts of the neighborhood to sink.  It was a muddy, disease-ridden slum.  Anybody with any money at all moved away, leaving the neighborhood populated by poor Irish immigrants and freed African-Americans.  Circa 1900, city leaders condemned the neighborhood and replaced it with the city municipal building where justice and injustice are still dispensed by the court.  (Other buildings and parking lots occupy the rest of the space.)

The Manhattan Municipal Building towers 25 stories high, with an additional 15 stories on the center spire. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)

The New York City Municipal Building now stands where Collect Pond used to be. 

 

 Aaron Burr was the Vice-President of the United States between 1800-1804.  In 1808 he responded to the ecological disaster of Collect Pond by founding the Manhattan Water Company.  His stated goal was to bring water from upstream to downtown, but instead he used the assets to start JP Morgan Bank.  The city eventually built an aqueduct to bring water from a source off the island.  Aaron Burr is best known for his duel with Alexander Hamilton.  Burr fatally wounded Hamilton in 1804.  Hamilton was the Secretary of the Treasury and a member of Thomas Jefferson’s cabinet.  Fighting duels was a childish custom.  Imagine if Joseph Biden challenged Hillary Clinton to a duel.  JP Morgan is still run by childish crooks, but at least they don’t fight duels.

File:Hamilton-burr-duel.jpg

Portrait of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in 1804 drawn by J. Mund.  Aaron Burr founded JP Morgan for the purpose of funding a project to supply fresh water to New York City after Collect Pond was poisoned.  This portrait is not accurate.  The seconds had their backs turned so they wouldn’t have to testify in court as witnesses.

Reference:

Sanderson, Eric

Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City

ABRAMS 2009

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