It might sound strange but there is a certain romance in a water tower. The very structure reminds us of days past when life was simpler. There were no cell phones then, no answering machines or caller Ids. It was not uncommon for people in the city to share their phone with their neighbors or to call “Yoo Hoo!” out the window to get a friend’s attention.

In many apartments in the city, the bathroom of the house was shared between residents. Timetables were kept and everyone abided by the other. Atop large apartment buildings and factories sat a cylindrical squat outline of riveted metal. This small water tower serviced the entire building. It was the private water supply for many and with its power it gave running water to each and every resident at all hours.

At one time the cites of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and others were home to these globes. The skylines was dotted with buildings tall and squat and on the roofs over-looking lakes, bays and oceans were the water tanks. Today many are missing. Time has taken their toll and new methods have come along and replaced the job of the personal water tower. However, in the city of Chicago 178 roof top water towers remain. 90 are still in use. They are icons, landmarks and a piece of history.

I wish I could say they will always be there but we all know that isn’t true. So next time you are driving through the city, look up. What can you see? Do you see the scaffolding stand of a tank long gone? Do you see a water tank old but loved and used? Driving into the city on I-90 there are many to see. Look up while you still can and enjoy. They won’t be there much longer.