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As if destined to be an iconic landmark in the windy city of Chicago, the Chicago Water Tower is one of only two structures that remained standing after the Great Chicago Fire which took place in 1781 that burned the entire city to ashes. The other building that survived is the neighboring pumping station. As such, the Chicago Water Tower is a distinct ?old? structure set against the towering modern skyscrapers. It is likewise the second most antiquated water tower in the United States next only to Louisville Water Tower in Kentucky.

The Chicago Water Tower is centrally located in Michigan Avenue along Chicago?s premier commercial district Magnificent Mile. As opposed to the contemporary water towers as we know today, this magnificent landmark is nothing near to industrial or practical. In fact, its name may not give it enough justice since it resembles ornate medieval European castles. It was the brainchild of architect William W. Boylington and huge limestone blocks were used to construct it. The structure is composed of one central tower surrounded by neo-gothic inspired turrets. When it was finished, it stood at 154 feet and was one of the tallest structures in Michigan Avenue but is currently dwarfed by the nearby skyscrapers such as the John Hancock Center and the Water Tower Place. Inside, a 138-foot high standpipe can be found which was used in firefighting and to regulate water surges in the area. The Chicago Water Tower became official non-functional by 1906.

Being able to withstand the Great Fire, the Chicago Water Tower has become a representation of Chicago?s ability to rise above adversities. Despite several propositions to demolish it, the Chicago Water Tower has gained popularity among Chicagoans and each time a demolition plan came into the picture, a public outcry happened. It was restored in 1962 and seven years later in 1969 during its centennial year, it was designated as the first American Water Landmark by the American Water Works Association. Today, a gallery showcasing photos from local residents can be viewed here.
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