“It would be like the nuclear arms race, but with cock-like structures.”

I uttered this sentence last night, and I thought that it should be recorded for posterity…

Every year or two since 2003, when Cabinet magazine named Ypsilanti’s historic water tower the winner of it’s World’s Most Phallic Building contest, a website somewhere decides to post a story about the our beloved “brick dick.” Most recently, it was an online travel site called Roadtrippers. Judging by the fact that at least three people outside of Michigan wrote to me about it, the article must have been a huge hit on social media. Here’s how it begins.

watertownroadtrippers

Ypsilanti’s water tower, for those of you who might be interested in more than just its shape, was erected in 1889, and provided water to Ypsilantians between 1890 and some point in the 1950s. The tower, which is located on the highest point in the City of Ypsilanti, is 147 feet tall, and cost a whopping $21,435 to construct. It’s comprised of Joliet limestone, and, when full, holds 250,000 gallons of water. For those of you who are more interested in girth than length, its base measures 85 feet. William R. Coats was its designer. To my knowledge, there is no record of him having explained why it is that the tower has to resemble a painfully turgid cock. [I’ve never looked, but how cool would it be if every building designed by William R. Coats looked like a giant sex organ? Boob houses. Vagina-shaped pools. Testicular monuments.]

The following, concerning water rates at the time in Ypsilanti, comes by way of Wikipedia.

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.

Back to my quote at the top of the page… As much as I love the fact that we live in a community with the most cock-like building, I feel as though we should encourage others to attempt to take the title from us. It’s criminal, I think, that the most cock-like building in the world was constructed 125 years ago. Has there really been no development since then that would allow for a more lifelike cock of a building? I suspect, without too much trouble, someone somewhere could put up a factory with a rigid dick of a smokestack that would put us to shame. And then the battle would be on. We’d stucco on a foreskin. They’d add some testicle shaped buildings at the base of their smokestack. We’d add a vein down one side of the water tower… On and on it would go… We’d be locked in heated battle until one of us had created a super-realistic dong rising up out of the ground. How incredible would that be?

watertowernew

As for the water rates at the time, here’s something interesting that just came my way from local historian Matt Siegfried. It comes from the April 26, 1902 edition of “Appeal to Reason,” published in Girard, Kansas… Apparently, even back then, people with money were trying to privatize pubic utilities, promising lower rates and better service, only to deliver neither.

waterannarborypsi

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5 Comments

  1. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me… radio show (one WEMU at that) had our water tower as a quiz item on Saturday.

  2. Posted January 25, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Do you remember anything about the exchange, Bob?

  3. Eel
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    We don’t have to wait until we have competition to take things to the next level. Couldn’t we at least plant two, big, round bushes at the base? I bet we could raise the money on Kickstarter in less than ten minutes.

  4. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Mark – As far as Wait-Wait, I recall they brought up the postcard that The Rocket has of the water tower as seen through the legs of a woman.

  5. Stewart Beal
    Posted January 26, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    The other communities have hired the best architects and engineers available in America and they spent months on design. They couldn’t come up with anything better so they gave up.

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