A walk-up view (June 7 and other first Saturdays through November)

June 5, 2008

St. Louis’ three standpipe water towers are among the most easily recognizable gems to those of us untrained in architecture.  The towers were not for storing water (as I had long believed) but for beautifying the standpipes used to equalize water pressure in the Victorian-era system.  True water towers would have been shorter and squatter and have had much more capacity.  Once they were no longer needed, many of the towers were dismantled; our three are among the few in the nation still standing.  For details on the towers and their history, check out the Built St. Louis or the St. Louis Water Division links.

On the first Saturday of each month (until November), the Compton Hill Tower opens to the public, and for a small fee (adults for $5, children 6 to 12 for $3, kids 5 and under for free) you can climb the 198 stairs to the top for a 170-foot-high view across the city.  (Good luck keeping up with your kids!  If you’re as out of shape as I am, you’ll still be on one of the seven landings while they’re up with the telescopes.)  The city’s water division partners with a nonprofit, the Water Tower and Park Preservation Society, to maintain the 19th-century structure, and it’s that organization that holds the key for the tours.

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