The dam was built under the old dam that formed Lake Kensico, using stone taken from the adjacent Cranberry Lake Park. More electric power was applied for its creation than any other construction work for the Catskill water supply. The crushing plant at the quarry was the largest ever placed on contract work, and a railroad was built solely for the purpose of carrying debris from the construction site to landfills. At the quarry village, a school operated for the children, sewing classes for the women, and English language classes for the predominately Italian male workers.
The dam was completed in 1915. It is 300 feet high and 1,830 feet long, and forms the Kensico reservoir. It was acquired as parkland in 1963 from the New York City Watershed Commission and remains the property of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Bronx River Parkway Reservation.
The Rising, the county's September 11th Memorial, is located at the intersection of many pathways and viewpoints, and thereby extends its presence into the surrounding landscape. "The Rising" is an open structure, can be approached from all directions and allows people of all ages and abilities to view it as well as move through it.
The park provides a unique setting for a wide variety of activities including cultural heritage celebrations, concerts, antiques shows and arts and craft shows, as well as areas for picnicking, in-line skating, walking and nature study.
With a new electrical system upgrade and the addition of permanent park lighting in 2014, Kensico Dam Plaza is now open until 10 p.m. in summer. Hours for fall and winter will be posted here.