Gwynneth Malin

PhD Student in History,

CUNY Graduate Center


Water, Visibility, and Public Space in New York, 1883-1892

The management of New York’s water supply vacillated between public and private, with the two systems at times coexisting, until public oversight of water replaced private.  This paper explores how massive immigration increased the demand for water, spurring the city to plan to import additional sources of water.  Drinking water fountain projects run by private charities revealed the city’s shortcomings in providing water.  Public water infrastructure sites, which became tourist destinations, heightened the visibility of water.  This paper argues that the idea of public water preceded the necessary infrastructure, bureaucracy, and finances required to make it possible.

Gwynneth Malin is a Level III student in American History, with a minor field in Modern European History.  Her research interests include comparative urban history and the intersection between local government, natural resources, and infrastructure in the 19th century.  The working title of her dissertation is:  How Water Became Public in Progressive Era New York.  She holds a B.A. in History from Columbia University, an History from New York University, and an Advanced Certificate in Archival Management from New York University.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar