Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions
North Point Water Tower is like taking a step back in time to 1874 when it was built. The tower is located on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and fun fact, it actually did not store any water. At the center of the tower is a 135 ft pipe which extends all the way to the top. This monument is dedicated to the Milwaukee Water Works, which was one of the first major water systems. It started by providing 16 million gallons of water per day and now pumps approximately 100 million gallons per day.
The style of the tower is Victorian Gothic as seen in the decorative brick/limestone that is on the outside of the tower. The covering was built to protect the pipe which was used by the waterworks as a standpipe to absorb the vibrations of the steam engines in the pumping stations below the hill. The water was pumped from Lake Michigan to a reservoir and then distributed throughout the city. The pipe was taken out of service when electricity replaced steam as the major method for pumping water in 1963. The structure was designed by architect Charles A. Gombert. It is similar in design to the Chicago Water Tower, but the North Point Tower is four years younger and 21 feet taller, at 175 feet. The tower is built of cream-colored cut limestone from the Hiram and Horace Story Quarry. The exterior is made of Cream City Brick and trimmed with dressed limestone.
Our most-asked question is "Can we climb the stairway inside?" Unfortunately, the staircase is used only for maintenance due to insurance purposes. Using 1874 specifications, the steel staircase is wide enough for one person who could perform any necessary maintenance. The tower is located at 2288 N. Lake Dr. at East North Avenue.
Information sourced from the City of Milwaukee. Photos (including cover photo) available through the City of Milwaukee as well.