The Croton Reservoir was opened in 1842 as the distribution reservoir for the Croton water system. A major fire in lower Manhattan in 1835, as well as the generally poor state of sanitation in the first half of the nineteenth century, made the need for an abundant, reliable water supply critical to the growth of the city. The reservoir was four acres in size and could hold 20,000,000 gallons of water. It was constructed in an Egyptian style which, in common with other civic buildings, made explicit reference to great civilizations of the past and suggested that New York stood in their lineage. A walkway around the perimeter of the 44 foot high walls became a fashionable destination for strolling on Sunday afternoons. The reservoir remained in use until the 1890s when the first of the large water tunnels took over its functions. It was later dismantled to make way for the New York Public Library.