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Groovy! Mid-Century Modern Water Storage

If Mike Brady had designed water towers or water tanks, I imagine they’d have looked like this!

These are pages from a 1965 promotional book from the Committee of Steel Plate Producers, American Iron and Steel Institute, obviously to introduce industrial designers and engineers to the coolness and versatility of steel plate for water storage products. (This copy was missing the middle-section pages.)

We love the 60s-era illustrations depicting that happy time when balloon-festooned children always strolled hand-in-hand with their parents. Below is a small sampling; the entire booklet can be seen on my Flickr site by clicking any of the pictures below.

Many thanks to Angela Blann for saving this book from the trash bin!

Water Tower: Just What We All Wanted!

Photo: mediaroom.rwu.edu

Wrapped up in a big red bow for a unique photo op, this new water tower was a “gift” from Roger Williams University to the town of Bristol, Rhode Island. (Wow! That’s the first time I’ve seen the words “university” and “gift” used together when it DID NOT involve my checkbook!) From thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com:

In 2008, Roger Williams University was adding new buildings to its Bristol, R.I., campus when, in the course of construction, it ran into a problem: low water pressure.

“We could have brought in pressure booster pumps to campus,” said Roy J. Nirschel, the university’s president. “But in that case, the town of Bristol would still have been affected.”

Instead, the university donated $1 million to the town to finance a new water tower.

Neat-o, but the article also points out that there are timely reasons why these sorts of “gifts” may become more common, and involve factors beyond pure altruism:

The subject is particularly relevant in the wake of Pittsburgh’s debate over a proposed tuition tax, intended to extract from students “fair share”contributions for city services and infrastructure upkeep. The tax was dropped after colleges and universities agreed to voluntarily increase their contributions to the city.

I can’t wait to see a nice bronze plaque commemorating a new sewer pipeline! Just imagine…refined signage honoring the donors and marking…the UNLV Intake Pipe #3!?

Water Towers, Merry and Bright: Part 2

To make your season bright…part 2! Again in 2009 we’ve rounded up some fantastic festive towers decorated for the holiday season! (See Part 1 here or the 2008 collection here and here.)


The Southern Arkansas University Water Tower Candle, photographed by Sounds like “Jee” on Flickr. This circa-1976 water tower is the most recognizable landmark in Magnolia, Arkansas and features a peal of 14 cast bronze bells near the top. The illuminated holiday candle decoration is a tradition that was established in l988.


This photo is from the annual public tree lighting ceremony in Concord, North Carolina by Paul Purser on Flickr, shot while working on a book about Charlotte NC and surrounding communities. (www.destinationcharlottethebook.com.) The water tower reads “All American City” and is a Concord icon. This great photo captures the city Christmas tree, the water tower, and fireworks in one shot.


A striking display from the City of Round Rock, Texas by Christopher Rose (khowaga1) on Flickr



This photo by mfng (Tom) on Flickr shows a landmark water tower in Durham, North Carolina. The site is a former Lucky Strike cigarette factory in the American Tobacco Historic District, now converted into a mixed-use campus of offices, restaurants and condos.


This water tower topped with a light tree is by gorfram on Flickr who notes that every year the Shoreline (Washington) Water District puts up a tree made of lights up on top of this water tower with local merchants donating towards the cost. Her photo was taken just as dusk was deepening into night. There’s a dusting of snow on top of the water tank, the Christmas tree is ringed by various radio masts and other equipment, and the twigs of a Japanese maple are in the foreground.


By QT Long at terragalleria.com, a festive water tower in Tennessee.

Water Towers, Merry and Bright: Part 1

Water towers and Christmas lights are a natural combo so again in 2009 we’ve rounded up some fantastic festive towers decorated for the holiday season! (See the 2008 collection here and here.)

Beautiful dusk light accents this starry blue tower in Fresno, California by Matt (mistergoleta) on Flickr.

By Robb_Wilson on Flickr, we love this charming Charlie Brown-ish water tower spotted in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California, where old railroad cars and engines are put out to pasture. This time of year, Robb says, “parts of the area are dressed up for Christmas.”


From the Mount Washington, Ohio 2009 Tower Lighting Ceremony by Rich Richmond on Flickr, who when contacted about including his photo in this feature said “I had no idea anywhere else was crazy enough to light up a water tower!”

TacSat Tim on Flickr took this photo of the Mannheim Water Tower during the annual Christmas market while stationed in Germany after returning home from Iraq in in 2006 (it was his first Christmas in Mannheim with his wife.) “Der Wasserturm” was built in 1889 and is a local landmark.

Not an real water tower, but charming nonetheless! =>tim<= on Flickr took this photo of a light display depicting a water tower with rail cars at the Midwest City, Oklahoma Holiday Lights Spectacular.

Another Reason I’m an Anglophile

Just when we think our crush on the country, culture and people of England was getting out of hand, along comes a note from Ferrers (aka The Pie Man) to further stoke our Anglophile tendencies. He pointed us to the delightful BWTAS –  the British Water Tower Appreciation Society. The group “exists to connect enthusiasts of water towers to share their enjoyment of their artistic, cultural, architectural, historical, social and engineering significance.”

We’re in favor of that! But the best part of their “about us” statement is this “It is a society that tries not to burden itself with administration duties, committees and all that stuff (although it has them). It is whatever the members can make of it themselves.”

What will become of Jumbo, the largest remaining Victorian water tower in Britain?

What will become of Jumbo, the largest remaining Victorian water tower in Britain?

Visit their website or follow them on Twitter, but be sure to set aside some time as it is packed with tons entertaining information, not only from the UK but from all other world. (In fact, I saw plenty of US-based water-tower stuff that I’d never come across myself elsewhere!)

The Society has organized exhibitions of water tower arts and crafts, given talks, organized tours, written guidebooks on water towers, and appeared on radio and TV. Its diverse membership includes architects, artists, historians, civil engineers, utility company employees, tower owners “as well as ‘just plain folk.”

If you’re UK-based, lucky you! All the rest of us should bookmark the BWTAS site in our big-fat, “someday” UK travel folder.

The Great Pumpkin, Water Storage Version

The folks from Circleville, Ohio, sure know how to whip up some soaring enthusiasm for their annual Pumpkin Show, first held in 1903. (While it sounds quaint, it has grown into an extravaganza that attracts 400,000 visitors!)

The water tower, which holds a million gallons, was built in 1976 but it wasn’t until 1997 that it was painted to resemble a giant gourd. (The stem doesn’t really have a function, it was added for authenticity!)

Curious, semi-obscure fact: apparently, the water footprint of a pumpkin is similar to that of a cucumber, about 240 liters per kg. (Source) Perhaps someone who is a better number-slinger can calculate the water footprint of the 2009 Pumpkin Show “biggest pumpkin” winner. Dr. Bob Liggett set a new Pumpkin Show record this year with his 1,635.5 lb. winning entry.

Photo: Pickaway County Ohio State Extension

The Biggest Balls Of Them All

Soccer Ball Water Tower, Mistlin Sports Park, Ripon, California (Thanks Adrian Mendoza, www.amenfoto.com)

Basketball Water Tower, Hebron, Illinois (Thanks, dharder9475 on Flickr)

Baseball Water Tower, Ellsworth, Illinois (Thanks, tlindenbaum on Flickr)
Water Tower Rend Lake Golf Course IL
Golf Ball Water Tower, Rend Lake Golf Course, Illinois (Thanks PJKnapp on Webshots Travel)

Beach Ball, Pensacola, Florida (Thanks, Andreas & Jo-Anne on PicasaWeb)


8 Ball Water Tower, Tipton, Missouri (Thanks, www.worldslargestthings.com)

This Real Estate Development is Tanking

The Water Tower House, Montgomery Hills, Maryland

The Water Tower House, Montgomery Hills, Maryland

Dan Reed from Just Up the Pike, an excellent Montgomery County, Maryland blog, profiles this available-now dream home. (Perhaps this what is meant by the phrase “wet dream?” No, don’t think so!)

3 BR 3.5 BA Colonial, near schools, shopping and 495. Potential for waterfront access (comes with two of every animal just in case). $699k.

Keep your eye on the kids! Water Tower House, back yard view

Water Tower House, back yard view

How did such a house come to be built with such horrible siting? Reed explains how infill development can be an appealing concept on paper, but a failure on the ground:

It’s a truly attractive house, solidly built and well laid-out, not to mention in a fairly decent location. Schools, shopping and the Forest Glen metro are all more or less within walking distance. But the siting of these six houses, in the shadow of a hulking water tower and hard up against the back of a strip mall, is less than ideal. This project illustrates many of the challenges of infill development, namely what to do with inflexible site conditions. You can’t move the water tower. The shopping center is likely decades away from being redeveloped. And the property is zoned for single-family homes. You have to make the three work together. I can’t say that happened here, though I’m not sure if it’s even possible.

Here’s hoping that the family who buys this house has a sense of humor, and furthermore that the water tower is well-sealed.

Convenient to shopping: view from upstairs bedroom

Convenient to shopping: view from upstairs bedroom