Wikipedia tells us:
The Croton Aqueduct or Old Croton Aqueduct was a large and complex water distribution system constructed for New York City between 1837 and 1842. It brought water by the force of gravity along 41 miles (66 km) from the Croton River in Westchester County into reservoirs in Manhattan, where local water resources had become polluted and inadequate for the growing population of the city. Although the aqueduct was supplemented and largely superseded by the New Croton Aqueduct, which was built in 1890, the Old Croton Aqueduct remained in service until 1955.
The man who designed and built the Croton Aqueduct was John B. Jervis (1795-1885), who is the subject of Harry Confusio’s portrait. HC told me, via email, that he just admires persons who work themselves up from laborers to leading engineers. Jervis was such a man. Whilst working as an axeman on the Erie Canal, Jervis studied on his own the principles of engineering. He later designed bridges and railroads and the steam engines that ran on the railroad.
HC says, in another email, that Jervis was the epitome of the great tradition of American exceptionalism–HC’s idea here is that Jervis never expiated upon exceptionalism:; he merely exemplified it. Jervis’s last words before he expired were “Water is life.”
Here is HC’s portrait of John B. Jervis: