Water is the Life of NYC is Park Slope's most recent community mural. Another project of the Groundswell mural group, it was completed in 2008 and depicts New York City's water cycle. The mural overlooks the corner of 4th Avenue and Sackett Street, where there is an entrance to the city's water tunnel no. 3. The course of water from the Catskills reserviors, over the Croton Dam, and through the tunnel system to city residents' taps serves as the mural's "connecting device".
From the Groundswell website:
The system of delivery of water from the rural New York to NYC is depicted in an effort to make New Yorkers more aware of how precious their water is. The allegorical figure of Mother Nature hovers over the two main reservoirs that feed water to the city. The Sandhogs, the urban miners who dig the tunnels to bring the water to the city, are depicted digging a third water tunnel. Elements of the urban and rural environments are shown together in harmony while in the central image and focal point of the mural, people are encouraged to drink tap water in reusable bottles.
The mural is aimed at “raising consciousness of how precious water is as a resource to us”, says team participant Christina Cacioppo. Alongside the mural the team also developed a pledge urging people to follow guidelines for water conservation. Anyone signing the pledge received a sticker also designed by the team. Fellow team member Zane Smith added, “This mural reflects the global issue of water as a precious resource, and as only seven percent of the world’s water is drinkable we shouldn’t take our water for granted”. Team member Federico Tenorio stated “the purpose of the mural is to also show where the water comes from and how it gets to us”.
If "murals are the people's blackboard", as Pablo Neruda has said, then it is interesting to compare the iconography of Water is the Life of NYC with earlier murals in Park Slope. Gone are the raised fists of resistance, imperialist eagles, flames and other violent imagery, replaced by depictions of harmony with nature, in keeping with the resurgence of ecological thinking in society today. Even the Park Slope Civic Council, through its local community grants program, contributed funds to help create this mural!
The mural certainly enlivens what was previously a rather dreary corner; the photo below is from our comprehensive Park Slope photographic survey and shows the site before the mural was installed: