Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

Contact us on email!

Hamilton vs. Burr: Dueling In Plumbing?

We take it for granted when we turn on a New York City water tap today that clean water will emerge for drinking, cooking, and bathing. However, at the very end of the 18th century, this was far from the case. New York lagged behind other cities when it came to plumbing, and a scheme was devised to remedy that. It wasn’t all it seemed, though, resulting in a rift between Vice President Aaron Burr and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. They wound up dueling in plumbing before their famous pistol duel that resulted in Hamilton’s death. Read on to learn the intrigue behind Manhattan’s early plumbing…and in a surprise related twist, banking.

Early Water Supply in New York City

Dirty and dangerous

In the early days of New York, including when the city was still known as New Amsterdam, the water supply for residents was scarce and, in many cases, downright dirty. Waste from the city ran into the various ponds and streams from where city dwellers hauled water.

Irish engineer and immigrant Christopher Colles attempted to remedy this through a new water distribution system. It intended to use a steam engine pump to pull water from multiple wells into a reservoir from which it would then be piped throughout the city. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Revolutionary War halted progress on this endeavor, which was later destroyed by the British army.

Water continued to be contaminated by human and animal waste as well as industrial chemicals. Disease was rampant, and while the yellow fever epidemic people thought was caused by polluted water in 1798 was actually caused by mosquitoes, dangerous water quality probably contributed to other diseases, like cholera.

Additionally, without pipes and a more centralized water source, fighting fired in the growing city was nearly impossible. By the last years of the 18th century, over 60,000 people lived in New York City. Clearly, a solution had to be found.

Formation of the Manhattan Company

For “pure and wholesome water”

Aaron Burr, who was still a legislator at the time, before eventually becoming Vice President of the United States, decided to capitalize on the dire water situation. He drafted a bill in 1799 to create a reservoir and aqueduct system that would finally provide New York with an abundance of the “pure and wholesome” water it needed. The Manhattan Company was created to control that water system.

Hidden in the bill, however, was a clause that permitted the company to use excess capital for whatever other purposes its directors chose. The clause was added at the last minute, and because it was the end of the legislative session, no one noticed it until the bill had been passed. The bill even received bipartisan support from Alexander Hamilton, a former aide to George Washington and a brilliant financier who had been named Secretary of the Treasury.

But Burr had a secret intention built into the bill and its provision for the use of extra funds. To create a surplus of capital, the Manhattan Company sourced water from cheap, polluted city locations, instead of drawing from the Bronx River. While the rest of the new United States was using iron clad pipes, the Manhattan Company employed crude wooden ones. Piping didn’t come close to covering the entire city, and the use of the service was prohibitively expensive, especially for freezing pipes in winter. Their system left New York to suffer with dirty water for another 40 years.

What did Burr and his partners do with the excess capital they siphoned from skimping on New York’s water system? He opened a bank, which became the oldest branch of JP Morgan Chase.

Why Banking Was So Competitive

Political control of credit

Getting a bank charter was even harder in the 18th century than it is today, hence Burr’s trickery with using the water company to hide the creation of his bank. Banking was highly political then. At the time the Manhattan Company was founded, New York City banking was monopolized by Hamilton’s Bank of New York, a Federalist institution, and the First Bank of the United States.

Before the establishment of the Manhattan Company bank, Aaron Burr’s fellow Democratic-Republicans, as they were then known, were locked out of many banking transactions, especially the use of credit. So, having a bank that put them on the same financial footing as their political opposition was quite a coup.

When Hamilton discovered Burr’s real intention with the water company and the subsequent continued poor water for the city, he became enraged. It was the beginning of the end to what had previously been a competitive but largely amicable relationship between the two men. Many historians see it as the spark that eventually led to their famous duel in 1804 that cost Hamilton his life.

And what of the Manhattan Company? It merged with the Chase National Bank in 1955 to become Chase Manhattan Bank, which later became JP Morgan Chase & Co.

While less competitive banking and safe water have become ubiquitous in our age, you may still find yourself dueling with your old pipes or outdated plumbing. To bring your system into the 21st century, reach out to Sanitary Plumbing. Call us at 212-734-5000, or use our online form to schedule an appointment at your convenience.

Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with We may collect and store the following personal information:

  • Name, email, address, telephone number, and (depending on the service used), move-in dates;
  • Transactional information (such as lease terms, lease parties);
  • Computer sign-on data, statistics on page views, and traffic to and from the Website; and
  • Other information, including IP address and other web log information.

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

  • Improve our services and the Website’s content and layout;
  • Provide the services and necessary customer support you request;
  • Resolve disputes, collect fees, and troubleshoot problems;
  • Track and record customer satisfaction with our services;
  • Protect the Company against error and fraud;
  • Inform you of special promotions and announcements;
  • Enforce our agreements, terms, conditions, and policies; and
  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

4. Links to Other Sites.

The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

5. Safety & Security Precautions.

The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Antler Pump & Motor Corporation, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

6. Opt-Out.

The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Antler Pump & Motor Corporation. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

7. Account Protection.

Your password ensures the security of your account. When choosing a password, the Company suggests using various characters. It is highly recommended that you do not disclose your password to anyone. (If you do disclose your password or your personal information with others, you are responsible for all actions taken in the name of your account.) If the security of your password is compromised for any reason, please contact the Company immediately.

8. Accuracy of Information

The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

9. Cookies

The Company may place a small cookie on your computer’s hard drive. This allows us to personalize your use on the Website. In order to maximize the functionality and usability of the Website, you must set your browser’s preferences to allow both permanent and temporary cookies.

10. Changing Your Personal Information.

Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: