Chicago’s Water Tower: Small But Mighty

This Saturday marks the 140th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire, rumored–but never confirmed–to have been started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, not only razed just about the entire city but also set the stage for its rebirth into the world-class metropolis it is today. (If there ever was a silver lining to a disaster, that would be it.)

The fire even jumped the Chicago River (more than once) on its way to burning an area four miles long by a half mile wide. It was one of the biggest disasters to occur in the United States in the 19th century.

The Water Tower, at the north end of Michigan Avenue, was one of only a few buildings in the burn zone to survive the fire, and it still stands today, in the shadow of the John Hancock building. The Water Tower is one of my favorites: not only do I find it attractive, but it brings back warm and fuzzy childhood memories of shopping at Water Tower Place (the shopping center across the street) with my Grandmother. For me, it also symbolizes strength through adversity, and I draw inspiration from it.

I take photos of the Water Tower each and every time I’m in the area (ahem, and you know that’s OFTEN), but the “perfect” picture has always eluded me because I have never been able to get the right angle from the various places I’ve stood. At any given photo spot, there are either too many buildings in the background (making the picture too cluttered) or, in the case of standing on the west side, I am unable to stand far enough back to get the entire Water Tower in the frame because a building is in my way.

I’m happy to report that I finally got it. Yesterday I attended a luncheon at NoMi Kitchen, a restaurant on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel (the intrusive building on the west side), and there, my friends, is the perfect place to take the perfect picture–or as close to perfect as I will ever get!–of the Water Tower.

Water Tower Watermarked

This simple pleasure brought me great joy, as did the fact that I was able to be so thankful for something so small in the grand scheme of things.