Now dwindling in number, water tanks used to dot the skyline of the city. These amazing rooftop cisterns came into use in the late-nineteenth century, when on-site water storage was recognized as a necessary fire-fighting measure.
Water tanks continue to be built in New York City for the ordinary purpose of maintaining the water pressure inside tall buildings with the aid of gravity. In Chicago, however, water tanks are viewed as an anachronism. It’s likely that these visually charming relics will disappear over time. For now, I relish the contrast between our sleek but bland skyscrapers and these sturdy rooftop monuments.