One of the first things I noticed about our new neighborhood is the water towers along Houston Street. I doubt the towers are still in use but appreciated the fact that they were preserved. I figured the towers provided water before modern plumbing. A web search revealed the following information from the NPR website about the city's water towers:
"New York bedrock doesn't let water travel naturally above six stories," he explained. Until the advent of modern plumbing, water towers were needed to build pressure in the pipes. (quoting Brian Hayes author of Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape)
Here are a few more photographs.
For more about New York's water towers, read "Excuse me, could I please borrow your water tower?" by Ellen Zachos of Garden Bytes from the Big Apple.