Chicago Landmarks

Old Chicago Water Tower District

Water Tower and Pumping Station, photo by Richard Nickel     Address: Michigan and Chicago Avenues
Year Built:
Architect: Various
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: October 6, 1971

Pumping Station doorway, photo by Bob Thall The old Water Tower and Chicago Avenue Pumping Station are the only public buildings to survive in the area destroyed by the Fire of 1871. Both structures were designed in a castellated-Gothic Revival style. The tower represents a fanciful interpretation of a medieval fortress or, in a quote attributed to the famed critic Oscar Wilde, a "monstrosity with pepper boxes stuck all over it." Nonetheless, both buildings have come to symbolize Chicago's fierce drive to continue, as well as rare monuments to the 19th century. The Water Tower was originally built to house a 138-foot standpipe, which became obsolete and was removed in 1911. The district also includes a turn-of-the-century fire station and two small parks.

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