My friend Eric sent me a huge photo of Ypsilanti’s infamous water tower yesterday. The image, which is beautiful, was taken in 1900, when women carried parasols, and Cross Street was still a dirt road scarred by wagon tracks. It’s an amazing photo. The structure was just ten years old at the time, having been completed for $21,435.63 in 1890. Here, from Wikipedia, is a little more background:
An ordinance passed on April 14, 1898 established a yearly rate schedule for residences with running water. Rates were based on the number of faucets in use, the type of business that customers operated and the livestock they owned. A residence with one tap was charged $5.00 and a private bathtub cost an additional $2.00. Saloon keepers paid $7.00 for one faucet, $3.00 for each additional faucet and $1.00 for each billiard table. Each cow a person owned cost $1.00. People who failed to pay their bill were subject to a $50.00 fine and ninety days in the county jail.
And here’s the photo:
Do you notice that little observation area at the top of the shaft? It’s not there now. At least I don’t think it’s there now… unless it’s somehow retractable. Maybe it just pops out when the conditions are right, like when a warm breeze caresses the tip just right. I suspect, however, that it was trimmed off at some point – a kind of architectural circumcision, if you will. Anyway, I’m now curious as to what happened, and why it was removed. I imagine that, as the water tower is built on the highest point in the City, the observation area was used for the spotting of fires and the like, but I’m not sure. If anyone knows, leave a comment.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t take a photo of the tower in its current state. Photographing water towers these days is apparently illegal.