Silver Lake is the largest body of fresh water on Staten Island. It is called a reservoir by islanders because for many years the lake was fed by the NYC water supply and served as drinking water for Staten Island. However, since the early 1970s, the drinking water has been collected in a large tank underneath the lake protected from surface pollutants, and the lake itself has ceased to serve that function. It is a beautiful sight for anyone driving by on Victory Boulevard or Forest Avenue.
There is a cool, fresh feel to the sunny air today, as midAugust brings the first inkling of summer’s end. And with many people, like myself, just back from vacations, it does seem like the seasons are beginning to change. So this is a great time to look at our natural environment. There’s no better place to start than Staten island’s first park, Silver Lake.
Many people know Silver Lake as a reservoir of drinking water and as the end of the line for New York City’s Catskill water supply system. That happened in the early years of the 20th Century, as the island’s population grew. Nowadays, the story is a bit more complicated, as the city decided during the 1960s to bury the drinking water reservoir below the lake in covered storage tanks. The work was completed in 1971 and thus the present lake is not part of the island’s water supply, but merely what covers it.
Silver Lake Park was the first city park to be created on Staten Island, but it was quickly overshadowed by Clove Lakes Park just to its south, and today a walk in the park is a quiet, solitary experience. Cleanliness is maintained in a satisfactory way, but the vegetation is in desperate need of care.
The trees around the lake have grown so thick that panoramic views have been blocked off almost entirely by lush greenery. A thorough re-landscaping of the edges of the lake could really enhance the appearance of the park. However, even without this kind of intervention, the park is a spectacular sight and is remarkably calm and quiet in the midst of the busy North Shore. It is surely a joy for the people who visit it from all over the island and from the surrounding communities, many of them filled with large, beautiful homes.