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FORM

FUNCTION

"Defy gravity, store water supplies above ground!" People shouted.
Engineers went to work and created structural landmarks throughout the nation.

For years these brick buildings served their function (they stored water). The Chicago Water Tower, built in 1869 survived the Chicago fire and has become a landmark outside the Museum of Contemporary Art. It has a mall named after it next to the John Handcock building, and chains around it to accent its significance. It functioned very well, and even has an aesthetic facade. However, the beauty it possesses is strictly historical. Now, as populations expanded and smaller towns needed water supplies, the demand for efficient, practical, and functional water towers grew.

This demand made said engineers create behemoth metal structures that perched on the horizons, opposing the vast open plains of rural areas where they were built. Urban areas absorbed their shapes into the landscape, on top of buildings or as parts of factories. In the rural areas, that's where they stood out. Towns painted their names in BIG BLOCK LETTERS on the sides of the towers usually facing the interstate to serve as an identity and as a landmark.

People would say to their relatives, "Take the exit after the water tower." The towers became fixtures.

Some towns painted their towers sky blue to blend in with the sky.

Then, some advertising brain decided to use their company water tower as a type of media. Eureka! copy that Towns followed and the water tower as art phenomena was born.

Something about these colorful, strange water towers has always fascinated me. I grew up next to one of the great lakes. We didn't have a water tower. Though the town adjacent to us did. It was painted as a giant yellow Smiley Face.

Driving down the interstate to visit relatives as a kid, I would look out of the car window of our '77 Pontiac Phoenix- wondering about the towns on the names of the water towers and counting each tower off in the distance. As I grew older I always kept my eyes peeled for strange and interesting towers, here are a few worth noting:

There are many checkered, striped and other variants for decorating water towers. Each tower is a unique symbol of place. All are inspiration and art, together serving a purpose. Ahem.


if you know of any neat towers you want on the list, just let me know.

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