Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The View From Inside Ypsilanti's Historic Water Tower

The Ypsilanti Water Tower is known far and wide for its historical significance and its...unusual shape.  89.1 WEMU's Bob Eccles recently had the chance to tour this remarkable structure.

The tower, built in 1889,  sits on Cross Street across the street from Eastern Michigan University. The iconic water tower is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Architect William R. Coats created the now-infamous design of the tower was originally used for the city's water supply and electricity generator, which has since changed and improved with overall growth of the area population.

According to Wikipedia:

The structure was the only water tower in the Ypsilanti water system until 1956. TheYpsilanti Community Utilities Authority began operating and maintaining the structure in 1974. That same year the tower was designated by the American Water Works Association as an American Water Landmark. It was also designated a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the Michigan Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 1976 it was restored.


The tower is located at the highest point of elevation of the city on Summit Street. The tower is made of Joliet limestone. The tower is 147 feet tall, has an 85 foot base. The substructure walls taper from a thickness of forty inches at the bottom to 24 inches at the top. The reservoir holds a 250,000-gallon steel tank. When it was constructed it had a dual purpose. Not only did it store water but the falling water also generated electricity for the city street lamps at night.[2]

Listen to Bob Eccle's full story above.

Related Content