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Chicago Water Tower

The Chicago Water Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Chicago, Illinois. It is a symbol of the city’s resilience, as it was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The tower’s Gothic Revival style is distinctive among the modern buildings of the Magnificent Mile, providing a stark contrast to the contemporary architecture that surrounds it.


The Water Tower was designed by architect William W. Boyington and constructed between 1867 and 1869. It originally housed a large water pump intended to draw water from Lake Michigan for the municipal water system. The tower gained historical significance after it survived the Great Chicago Fire, serving as a symbol of hope and rebuilding for Chicago’s residents during the recovery period.


The Chicago Water Tower is located in the heart of downtown Chicago, at the following address:

Chicago Water Tower
806 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

Situated along the prestigious Michigan Avenue, also known as the Magnificent Mile, it is in close proximity to numerous shops, restaurants, hotels, and other cultural landmarks.

Features and Present Use

  • Architecture: The tower’s architecture is a prime example of Gothic Revival style, complete with turrets, buttresses, and ornate stonework.
  • Chicago Gallery: The tower now houses the City Gallery, which is an art gallery that features the work of local photographers and artists with Chicago-themed exhibits.
  • Visitor Center: The nearby Water Works building contains a visitor information center where tourists can learn more about Chicago and its many attractions.
  • Historical Significance: It is a designated Chicago Landmark and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tips for Visiting

  • Photography: The Water Tower is a popular subject for photography, offering the chance to capture the contrast between the historic and the modern.
  • City Gallery Visits: When visiting the City Gallery inside the Water Tower, check in advance for current exhibits and opening hours.
  • No Admission Fee: There is no fee to view the Water Tower or visit the City Gallery, making it an accessible attraction for all visitors.
  • Walking Tours: Consider joining a walking tour that includes the Water Tower to learn more about its history and significance.
  • Nearby Attractions: Combine your visit with other nearby attractions such as the Magnificent Mile, John Hancock Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Conclusion: Chicago Water Tower

The Chicago Water Tower is not only a piece of Chicago’s history but also a testament to its spirit. As a historical beacon amidst modernity, it offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and appreciate the city’s architectural and cultural heritage. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a charming piece of the past in a bustling city, the Water Tower is a must-see landmark when visiting Chicago.

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