Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant – Queens NY


The Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided resources for the construction of what was then known as the Bowery Bay Pumping Station. The facility, which bears a 1940 cornerstone, has since been expanded.

“Under the auspices of the New York Department of Sanitation, between 1937 and 1944, three new wastewater treatment plants were constructed — Wards Island in Manhattan, and Bowery Bay and Tallman Island in Queens. These facilities were designed to reduce pollutants in the Harlem River and in the East River, whose dark and murky waters had some of the lowest dissolved oxygen concentrations in the harbor. During the summer months, dissolved oxygen levels were often zero, which caused unpleasant odors. The city and its waterways benefited from an infusion of funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), an ambitious public works program that was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Wards Island plant, located in the middle of the East River, was built to handle flows from the east side of Manhattan and the lower part of the Bronx. The plant came on-line in October 1937 and was the first to use the conventional activated sludge process, a great leap forward in wastewater treatment. A few years later, the activated sludge process was incorporated into the Bowery Bay (1939) and Tallman Island (1939) plants. During this period, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut established the Interstate Sanitation Commission (ISC) to protect, regulate and set water quality standards for the entire harbor.”   (

Source notes

Photo at:

Project originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on April 22, 2014.

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Location Info

4301 Berrian Blvd.
Long Island City, NY 11105

Coordinates: 40.77860, -73.89432

One comment on “Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant – Queens NY

  1. Mary Woodyard

    4/15/18. I just walked by this site today. And was struck by the magnificent bas-reliefs . There are two of them, flanking the boarded up door. They are on a building at the site that appears to be derelict now. The main wastewater treatment plant being off to the west. I have nice fresh pictures of both bas-reliefs. And of the building from more of a distance. But I don’t see any way to upload these.

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