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In 1906, The Forward’s Geyser Became An Unlikely Water Source

“Thousands Come Drink Cold Fresh Water From The ‘Forverts’ Foundation-Stone,” the Forward’s headline read. And New York’s newspapers were filled with the story of the remarkable source uncovered while digging the foundation for the new 10 floor building that was being raised by the ‘Forverts.

The English language press was full of descriptions and images of the thousands of people crowding the construction site of the new large ‘Forverts’ building, where they filled bottles and pails with fresh, pure well-water. The following is a translation of the story that appeared in the August 13, 1911 edition of the Forverts.

The image above of the scenes that played out at the ‘Forverts’ construction lot were published in the ‘World,’ with similar images published in the ‘Press.’ The photograph only depicts a fraction of the situation there over the past few days. As has emerged, the large pumps installed by the building contractors release fresh cold water and created a lively street atmosphere. Hundreds of children, men and women started arriving from all parts of the area, each with something in hand with which to gather the water–a glass, a bottle or a pint glass–and each enjoyed the waters before heading home.

Two weeks ago, workers digging the foundation of the 10 story ‘Forverts’ building on two lots at 173 and 175 East Broadway, dug up the remains of an old long abandoned well. Since then, the deeper they dig, more and more water emerges.

The building contractors then installed pumps but the water overran them. When they dug 21 feet deep the water began gushing out high as a geyser.

At first the water released by the pumps appeared muddy, but slowly it turned clear until the purest, crystal clear water poured out. Just then, the street’s youth noticed it and a lively scene emerged. Everyone piled out of the tenements to come and get free tasty well water.

A sample of the water was sent to Columbia University for scientists to inspect it and the results are expected on Monday.

Of course, it’s not possible to know the source of this water. The builders and engineers think it’s running out of an older canal culled from Canal Street. It’s also possible that its source is the East River, but prior to it emerging outward as an underground spring, it flows from there, underground, free of impurities, and then rushes out as crystal-clear delicious water.

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