The Chicago Water Tower
The Chicago Water Tower Events
The Chicago Water Tower Information
Mon.- Sat. 10am - 6:30pm & Sunday 10 am - 5pm
When to Go:
Gallery is open year round and features multiple free exhibitions.
- The gallery inside The Chicago Water Tower showcases a variety of exhibitions each year.
- The Water Tower Chicago is one of the city's most beloved landmarks.
- The historic Chicago Water Tower still pumps water for the city.
806 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
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Tangible History: The Chicago Water Tower
This activity is FREE!
Features: Located in the northern portion of the Magnificent Mile at Chicago Avenue, the Chicago Water Tower was built in 1869 and is one of few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, due to its construction of limestone blocks. The tower, which resembles a small castle, is functionally obsolete and serves as a visitor information center, where the public can obtain literature about Chicago attractions. The Water Tower is also home to City Gallery, Chicago's official photography gallery. The pumping station still pumps water for the city. The Chicago Water Tower was designated the first American Water Landmark in 1969 and was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1971.
The Water Tower was erected to house a 138-foot-tall standpipe, three feet in diameter. This standpipe served to equalize pressure and to minimize the pulsation of the water flowing in the mains. The foundation of the Water Tower consists of 168 piles filled with concrete and capped with 12-inch oak timbers. Massive stones laid in cement complete the base up to six feet below the grade. The tower rises in five sections from the square ground- level base with battlement pillars at each of its four corners. Each of the 40-foot-wide sides has a stately doorway and two grand windows. The second and third sections are similar in design as they rise in diminishing size. The octagonal tower is centered and set back from the top of the third section. It rises 154 feet above the ground level. The standpipe was removed in 1911 when it was no longer needed. The spiral staircase which encircled the standpipe, however, is still intact and is used to reach the tower cupola.
Why We Go: Visit the Chicago Water Tower and enjoy the tangibility to American history. Originally built in 1869, this limestone building was named the first American water landmark. This historic building sits in the middle of downtown Chicago between a bunch of modern skyscrapers reminding natives and visitors alike of our rich history. The Chicago Water Tower also has a photo gallery that rotates exhibits throughout the year.
- Historic Landmark: The Chicago Water Tower is among the only buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 due to its limestone construction.
- Free Admission: Admission to the Water Tower Chicago photo gallery is always free!
- Photo Gallery: The photo gallery is a hidden gem within the Chicago Water Tower. Come on in and explore!
Inside Knowledge: Admission to Water Tower Place Chicago is always free! Head out and enjoy a day of artistic and historic fun. Let history come alive.
Do's and Don'ts:
- Do Check Out the Gallery: The Chicago Water Tower has a hidden gem of a photography gallery showcasing different artistic works year round.
- Do Leave the Car: The Chicago Red Line will drop you near by The Chicago Water Tower.
- Don't Forget to Tour the Building: The historic Water Tower Chicago is a limestone, castle-looking architectural feat that now serves as a visitor's center.
- Don't Forget Your Camera: A famous site, your Water Tower Chicago visit is one you'll want to document.