Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

Contact us on email!

The More You Know: The History of Water Pumps

Nowadays in New York City, we take for granted the many pumps that transport water for drinking, washing, cleaning, and industrial applications. But the history of the water pump as we know it is relatively short, with many innovations occurring in the recent past. Here’s a brief history of water pumps, an invention without which modern society would be totally different.

Precursors to the Water Pump

Not-quite-pumps to move water

Early civilizations knew water was vital for survival, but transporting this precious liquid posed many challenges. Man created several early devices before the formal development of the pump in an attempt to make water easier to obtain.

For example, Mesopotamians living in what is now Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey invented a type of lever that was used on river and stream banks. It looked similar to a see-saw. On one end was a bucket, and on the other, a counterweight. When someone operated the lever, the bucket would dip into the source to fetch water, and the counterweight on the other side of the lever would pull the bucket out once it was full.

The Ancient Egyptians had a similar mechanism called a shadoof, which they used at the edge of the Nile River. While it was more of a well-type bucket system, it wasn’t quite a pump… yet.

Ancient Greece and the Archimedes Screw

The first true pump

The first real pump in known history was invented by the Ancient Greeks around 200 BC. The famous mathematician Archimedes came up with a device that changed the world as we know it now: the screw pump. Historians believe the invention came out of a need to remove bilge water from The Syracusia, a naval warship that also transported goods and provided luxury travel for a select few.

A revolving screw-shaped blade inside a large cylinder was cranked by hand. It transferred water from low levels to higher ones as the screw turned. Not only could this type of rudimentary pump transport liquid, but it was also soon used to move grain and coal.

The force pump

Ctesibius, a Greek inventor and mathematician living in Alexandria, Egypt around the same time as Archimedes, is credited with creating another type of early pump that was equally innovative. Also a hand-operated device, it used two cylinders to pull water upwards using pressure in what is probably the first piston-type pump ever seen. In fact, it was even more efficient than a piston pump because the two cylinders alternated their up-and-down movement, meaning the transport of water was continuous. There was no break in between each stroke like there is with a single-piston pump.

Rebirth of the Pump After the Dark Ages

Many innovations after regression

After the fall of the Roman Empire, innovation in science and mathematics ceased and even regressed during the Dark Ages (AKA Middle Ages or Medieval Period). It wasn’t until the Enlightenment of the 18th century that pumps as we know them began to see real development.

However, before that, inventors made steps toward modern pump technology:

  • 1475 – Italian engineer Francesco di Georgio likely created the first idea of a centrifugal pump (see below) in his drawings.
  • 1588 – Another Italian engineer, Agustino Ramelli, described a sliding vane water pump in his book of inventions.
  • 1593 – An early gear pump was developed by Frenchman Nicolas Grollier de Servière.
  • 1636 – Pappenheim invented the first rotary gear pump.
  • 1650 – Otto von Guericke created the piston vacuum pump, notable for using leather washers to prevent leakage.
  • 1675 – Englishman Sir Samuel Moreland patented the packed plunger pump.
  • 1687 – Denis Papin, born in France, built the first real centrifugal pump using centrifugal force and a vane mechanism to move water at rapid speeds.
  • 1738 – Daniel Bernoulli’s famous equation for fluid mechanics was derived.
  • 1792 – James Watt, known for steam engine innovation, invented an oscillating piston machine.
  • 1790 – Steam power was first used to drive pumps.
  • 1845 – The first steam-pumping engine was used to power boats.
  • 1849 – The first all-metal pump was built.
  • 1851 – The curved vane centrifugal pump was introduced by John Appold of Great Britain.
  • 1859 – The diaphragm pump was invented.

Curious about early pump use in New York City? The first pump ever used in the city was installed in a well built in front of the fort at Bowling Green, near what is now Battery Park. Used in the early days of the British occupation of New York after they seized it from the Dutch, the well pump provided water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning to residents of the area. Interestingly, it was a love of tea, brought to the colonies via Dutch importation, that largely drove the search for water in those early days.

Modern Pump Technology

Types of water pumps in use today

Over the next one hundred years following the American Civil War, pump technology continued to evolve, primarily refining existing types of pumps to meet the needs of growing cities with skyscrapers and the innovations born of the Industrial Revolution. Rather than being hand-cranked or steam-powered, pumps began to be driven by hydraulics, coal, and eventually, electricity.

Many of the earliest pump types are still in use today, albeit in more sophisticated forms. Archimedes’ screw pump was developed into the spiral pump, which is used for irrigation and land drainage. Because the mechanics are simple, repairs are easy, even in poverty-stricken areas, which makes its wide-scale use feasible. Likewise, the sliding vane and gear pumps are quite popular. They are used less for moving water than for petroleum and other fluids with viscosities different from that of water.

Of course, you’ve probably seen piston pumps in action today. And the centrifugal pump is perhaps the most common of all. It’s present in many New York City buildings, moving tap water and feeding boilers to keep the city going.

Even Modern Pumps Need Maintenance and Repair

Call Antler Pumps

Although modern pumps have come a long way since the days of Archimedes, they still need care. Regular maintenance and repair can extend the life of your pumps and help prevent problems with corrosion, clogging, and other results of wear and tear.

Don’t wait until you have a pump failure that disrupts your property. Call Antler Pumps at 212-534-2500, or use our online message form to set up an appointment today. We are experts at pump installation, repair, and servicing, and we’ll make sure your pumps get the attention they need.


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 Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of omniagroup.nyc (“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 omniagroup.nyc).

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 Sanitaryplumbing.com.

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 Omnia Mechanical Group, 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 Omnia Mechanical Group. 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 Sanitaryplumbing.com 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 omniagroup.nyc 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: info@omniagroup.nyc.