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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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The North Point Water Tower perches on the western shoreline of Lake Michigan.
The North Point Water Tower perches on the western shoreline of Lake Michigan.
The tower is made primarily of Cream City brick.
The tower is made primarily of Cream City brick.
A spiral staircase snakes up the center of the tower.
A spiral staircase snakes up the center of the tower.
The water tower is, sadly, not open to the public.
The water tower is, sadly, not open to the public.
At 138 years old, the tower is still in very good condition.
At 138 years old, the tower is still in very good condition.

Peek inside the North Point Water Tower

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to get inside the majestic, fairytale-esque North Point Water Tower, located on an 80-foot bluff between North Lake Drive and Lake Michigan.

Unfortunately, the public is not permitted inside anymore – not even pesky OnMilwaukee.com reporters who beg and plead – but the Milwaukee Water Works folks were kind enough to share information and photos of the water tower with me.

So, here's the deal. Charles A. Gombert designed the 175-foot, Victorian Gothic style water tower, which was built in 1873 and cost $50,892. It is made from cream-colored "Wauwatosa cut" limestone and Cream City bricks.

The North Point Water Tower was constructed as an essential component of the system. The standpipe it covered relieved the pulsations caused by the pumping engines, which, in turn, reduced pressure on the water mains and minimized breakage.

However, by 1963, modern pumping equipment replaced the system and the water tower was taken out of service. The original pump station – as well as the "new" one constructed in 1963 – is at the base of the hill just below the tower.

In 1968, the Milwaukee Landmark Commission identified the tower as an official landmark.

Today, it continues to serve as a night beacon for lake shipping. It remains one of Milwaukee's most recognizable structures as well as a symbol of our precious, abundant water supply. I have not completely given up on getting inside the tower someday to fulfill some sort of Rapunzel fantasy, but for now, I am satisfied to enjoy it – in all of its Gothic splendor – from the outside.

Preferably, from the lakefront with a dish of custard in my hand.

Talkbacks

TheSkeptic | Sept. 19, 2011 at 2:33 p.m. (report)

By the time I registered to comment and wrote my rant about fixing the "'" problem, I forgot about my original reason for commenting. I want to thank you for this interesting story and the great photos of the North Point Water Tower- truly one of Milwaukee's greatest treasures.
But, OnMilwaukee.com, don't forget to work on the "'" problem. Thanks.

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TheSkeptic | Sept. 17, 2011 at 5:10 p.m. (report)

How about OnMilwaukee.com finding a way to get rid of " 's " ,which appears frequently on your website. Don't you have a computer whiz on staff who can eliminate that nuisance? Many thanks!

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JeffB | July 2, 2011 at 11:37 p.m. (report)

Some nice historic photos, including one with a cow in front of the Water Tower (!) at: http://hwtn.org/photo-gallery/water-tower-water-tower-park/

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DustyPockets | June 3, 2011 at 12:05 p.m. (report)

more information on the tower and system:

http://www.historic-structures.com/wi/milwaukee/np_water_tower1.php

http://www.city.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/Groups/cityHPC/DesignatedReports/vticnf/NorthPointWaterTower.pdf

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shorewood | June 2, 2011 at 1:23 p.m. (report)

Whenever we drive past along the Lake, I always tell my son to wave at the princess who is waving at him from the tower. I think he actually sees her (in his imagination anyway.;)

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