Chicago, IL

Touring the Chicago Water Tower

Youth & News

The next time you are in Chicago, Illinois, you might want to check out the outmoded Chicago Water Tower amid other more modern-looking buildings. The building holds more history than the other more sophisticated, high-rise buildings in the area, and that is what gives it the uniqueness –it does really stand out. As one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, it became a local tourist attraction. Something that makes it even more special is that it is said that this tower saved the city during the fire.

The tower is located on 806 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 606111. You can check the building out in the daylight when you can fully admire the architecture and beauty or at night when the light comes on around it to accentuate the majestic peculiarities. You will especially love the manner of the old-themed, old-fashioned castle-like structure, which may or may not take you back in time to Disney movies or historic films.

Chicago water tower, view at night.Chicago Tribune

Chicago water tower, view at night.

The Water Tower was built in 1869 from yellowing Lemont Limestone on N Michigan Avenue, and was designed by architect William W. Boyington to enclose a 138-foot tall standpipe for holding water –and a powerful water pumping machinery –completely surrounded on the outside by 182.5-foot tall limestone tower. It is the second oldest of such towers remaining in the USA, hence its importance.

The building gained its popularity with its ornate Gothic Revival style as one of the most important buildings in Chicago, more specifically, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is more locally or casually referred to as the “Magnificent Mile” of Michigan Avenue.

On your visit, you will get to appreciate the true archaic model, due to the fact that the surrounding areas have been more recently built on, making the Chicago Water Tower be distinct in its setting. The tourist attraction is in fact, not one building but two, one at each side of the N Michigan Avenue. On one side is the Water Tower itself, with a small art gallery, and on the other side is the Chicago Avenue Pumping station. The pumping station has been remodeled into a department of the Tourism office, and the Looking Glass Theater Company.

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Interior of the Chicago Water Tower.Chicago Tribune

Being so lucky to still have one of these fancy architectures to admire in the United States during our lifetime, I recommend a visit to the magnificent Chicago Water Tower, with at least an hour budgeted for a full tour around the two buildings. You may also get to view the tower from an aerial view if you book the Park Hyatt Hotel, which will give you a more breathtaking experience, much better in person than any photograph could capture.

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Water Tower Place and Lake Michigan, Park Hyatt, Chicago, ILChicago Tribune

The site of the tower, which is a small park, used to be a place to rent horse-drawn carriages to survey the area. Even though there are not as many as those around anymore, you can still find some to rent during your visit, or you can just use a car. It's just more of an experiment to circle the ancient building in a more original way.

You can visit the Chicago Water Tower anytime from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM on weekdays –Monday to Friday –and, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 AM on Saturdays to Sundays. These hours are subject to change, depending on the situation at that time. For Post-Covid visits, health and hygiene safety precautions have been required, like taking a hand sanitizer with you and observing social distancing. Please note that a face covering is also necessary for guests. This is done to make all tourists feel comfortable, and more at home.

The Chicago Water Tower Place, the eight floors storey building mall, is renowned for its over 100 shopping stores to choose from while visiting. There are also restaurants, and entertainment options available in the building, including a live theater. You can visit the city of Chicago website to find out more about the age guest restriction, other requirements, and to call ahead before visiting. Just make sure you get to experience this at least once.

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