Monday, December 13, 2010

Old Water Tower at Night

The Water Tower on Michigan Avenue in Chicago is iconic, a building that even those who visit the city only briefly are likely to know.  After making this painting of the water tower at night, I found myself wondering the history behind the building which Oscar Wilde described as "a castellated monstrosity with pepper boxes stuck all over it,"
I found that the water tower was constructed in 1869 based upon a design by architect William W. Boyington.  The building houses a 40 meter standpipe which was used to equalize the pressure of the water pumped from the adjacent pumping station. When built, the tower which reaches 154 ft, towered over all the neighboring buildings.

The pumping system was built to provide the city with clean water, pumped from intake bins that were located in Michigan Lake. The plan was not a great success since the bins eventually became polluted. This problem was only solved at the end of the 19th century after the direction of the Chicago river was reversed. The tower became functionally obsolete in 1906.

Today the tower houses a gallery which showcases works from local photographers.  The current exhibit, which runs through January 11th is called “Fashioning Desire."  It is an exhibit of work by Chicago-based fashion photographers such as Sandro, David Leslie Anthony, Verser Engelhard, Brian Kuhlmann, Erika Dufour and others which culls together images that function in both commercial and artistic contexts.
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