"Cherished Landmark: Water Tower" Top 5 Page for this destination Chicago Favorite Tip by deecat

Chicago General: 445 reviews and 517 photos

  Chicago's Historic Water Tower
by deecat

Favorite thing: Designed in 1867 (architect William W. Boyington) and completed in 1869, the Historic Water Tower is Chicago's cherished landmark. Today it is a memorial to the victims of the Great Chicago Fire. Why? Well, in October of 1871 flames engulfed almost the entire city of Chicago, and only two buildings survived: the Pumping Station and the Water Tower. Both of these buildings were made of Joliet limestone blocks quarried in Illinois. So, naturally they became symbols of survival and the Chicago spirit of "I Will."
The architectural style of the Water Tower is gothic. It reminds me of a medieval castle. It is slender in shape and also has qualities of a minaret. It was originally built to house a 138-foot standpipe, but it became obsolete, so they removed it in the early 1900's. Even though the standpipe is gone, the spiral staircase that encircled the standpipe is still there and today is used to reach the tower cupola. Each side has a stately doorway and two grand windows.
During the centennial anniversary (1969), the tower was recognized as the First American Water Landmark. The city recognized it as a City Landmark in 1972.

Fondest memory: In June of 2004, Allan and I visited the Water Tower, which is now the home of The City Gallery which is the city's official photography gallery. The gallery was displaying hundreds of Chicago's Lake Michigan scenes by a photographer. They were scenes from all four seasons at every conceivable time during the day or the night. It was quite beautiful under all circumstances.
Inside there are built-in fountains with the heads of lions (either two or four fountains, I believe). Once inside the building, you are quite aware of why the building did not burn. It seems indestructible.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 20, 2004
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