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Chicago Sights

Historic Water Tower

  • 806 N. Michigan Ave. Map It
  • Near North
  • Building/Architectural Site

Updated 06/11/2013

Fodor's Review

This famous Michigan Avenue structure, completed in 1867, was originally built to house a 137-foot standpipe that equalized the pressure of the water pumped by the similar pumping station across the street. Oscar Wilde uncharitably called it "a castellated monstrosity" studded with pepper shakers. One of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, it remains a Chicago landmark and a symbol of the city's spirit. The small gallery inside has rotating art exhibitions of local interest.

Water Works Pumping Station. Water is still pumped to some city residents at a rate of about 250 million gallons per day from this Gothic-style structure, which, along with the Water Tower across the street, survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Lookingglass Theatre calls this place home, as does one of the city's visitor centers. 163 E. Pearson St., at Michigan Ave., 60611.

Sight Information


806 N. Michigan Ave., at Pearson St., Chicago, Illinois, 60611, United States

Map It

Sight Details:

  • Free
  • Daily 10–6:30

Updated 06/11/2013


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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By Lexma90

  • Experience

  • Ease

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  • Don't Miss

Nov 23, 2009

Historic Water Tower Review

This is an enduring symbol of Chicago. Don't forget to stop and take a look as you're walking up or down Michigan Ave. Walk around the Tower, and imagine this being the only structure standing after the Chicago Fire. And yes, it is kind of ugly!

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