Haley Richardson joined the New York Public Radio Archives department in 2010 to digitize, catalog, and present online hundreds of hours' worth of WNYC recordings from the 1930s to 1970s for a National Endowment for ...
In 1949, the State of New York's Board of Water Supply was in the middle of constructing the Delaware Aqueduct as a means of augmenting New York City's water supply. During this time, residents and officials were deeply concerned with how all of the city's water was used -- or wasted.
Today, the Delaware System, in conjunction with the older Croton and Catskill Systems, stores up to 550 billion gallons of water and serves up more than 1.2 billion gallons every single day to people in the city and surrounding counties.
In this uncredited jingle from 1949, a lone guitarist (does he sound familiar?) pleads with the radio audience to use the city's water supply responsibly: "Save, save, save," he croons. "Don't let it run. Water is precious as gold today, and no one ever throws gold away!"
Though we can't be certain as to how this jingle was heard by WNYC audiences, we think it was used as the closing tune for an informational program presented to teach citizens the importance of conserving water.
One such program aired at about the same time as this jingle, The Man Without a City tells the story of Jeremiah P. Driftwood, who learns the hard way the role the city plays in his daily life and why he should observe their demands that he turn off the faucet while he shaves.
"There is a serious shortage," he is told. "Your city asks you to cooperate!"
You'll also hear that water conservation is just the beginning of Mr. Driftwood's municipal odyssey.
WNYC's commitment to educating the public on the importance of responsible consumption of water continued in to the 1950s, as evidenced by this collection of short and sweet radio spots. In each, a WNYC announcer suggests ways in which citizens can conserve water in their daily activities.
At the time these spots were broadcast, New York was experiencing a significant drought; public conservation of water was credited as being one of the most effective means of restoring the city's dwindling water reserves.
Audio courtesy NYC Municipal Archives collection.