Constructed in 1869 using big limestone blocks, the Chicago Water Tower, with all its small neo-gothic towers resembles more a tiny European medieval castle than a water tower. It was designed by architect William W. Boyington and houses a 40 meter standpipe which was used to equalize the pressure of the water pumped from the adjacent pumping station. The tower reaches a height of 154 ft or 47 meter and towered over all the neighboring buildings. Today it is dwarfed by the many skyscrapers surrounding the tower.
Since its survival of the Great Fire, the Water Tower became one of the city’s most famous icons as it symbolized Chicago’s resilience. It was threatened with demolition several times – in 1906, 1918 and 1948 – but it was saved each time thanks to a public outcry. The tower was eventually restored in 1962. In May of 1969, during the year of its centennial anniversary, the Chicago Water Tower was selected by the American Water Works Association to be the first American Water Landmark.
Today the tower is one of the most important historic attractions in Chicago. It houses a gallery which showcases works from local photographers.