The Chicago Water Tower was built in 1869. It was one of the few public buildings to withstand the flames of the Great Fire of 1871. The tower is situated at the center of the Magnificent Mile and its architecture contrasts sharply with nearby modern buildings like the John Hancock Center and Water Tower Place.

The tower was originally built to provide the city with clean water, pumped from intake bins that were located in Michigan Lake. However, it was not a great success. The intake water became polluted and the tower became functionally obsolete by 1906. Many attempts were made to destroy the tower but public outcry saved the building until it was designated an American Water Landmark.

Did you know?

  • In May of 1969, the Chicago Water Tower was selected by the American Water Works Association to be the first American Water Landmark.
  • The tower is one of the most important historic attractions in Chicago.
  • It houses a gallery that showcases work from local photographers.


Chicago Water Tower