The Old Water Tower In Chicago

The Water Tower in Chicago is one of the most prominent historic attractions in the city. It is housed by the Jane M. Byrne Plaza at 806 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. It has now been transformed into an art gallery displaying works of native artists and photographers.


The Chicago Water Tower was built in the year 1869 by the architect William W. Boyington. The construction material used was yellow Joliet limestone used as big blocks. The tower rose to a height of 47m (154 feet) and was taller than all of the buildings in its surroundings. Inside the tower was a stand pipe which was 42 meters (138 feet) long. The Water Tower was originally built for drawing clean water along with the adjacent pumping station from Lake Michigan. In addition to that, it was instrumental in firefighting, as well as controlling surges of water in its surroundings. However, its popularity is entirely attributable to the event which took place two years after its construction- the Great Chicago Fire in the year 1871. The fire destroyed the entire city to the ground except for a few buildings, which include the Water Tower. This contributed to its fame and the tower became a symbol of the city and it inhabitants’ resilience and firmness. It also represents the old traditions of the city.

Changes made to the Water Tower in the Course of History

The Old Water Tower has been renovated twice in its history. The first one took place during the years 1913 to 1916. It consisted of widespread replacements of the limestone blocks in the external structure of the tower. The second renovation was carried out in the year 1978. It mostly brought about changes into the interior of the building. Only minor changes were made to the exterior of the tower. The most recent upgradation to the tower was the changing of the name of the park which houses it. It occurred in 2014 and the park was named after the former mayor of the city, Jane Byrne. Lastly, the building which once towered all its neighboring structures, appears to be a miniature in the twenty first century. This is due to the sky scrapers that are present in its vicinity.

The Chicago Water Tower is a renowned site in today’s world too, as it exhibits the resilience of Chicago and its inhabitants and houses the works of artists and photographers.