Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to get inside the majestic, fairytale-esque North Point Water Tower, located on an 80-foot bluff between North Lake Drive and Lake Michigan.
Unfortunately, the public is not permitted inside anymore – not even pesky OnMilwaukee.com reporters who beg and plead – but the Milwaukee Water Works folks were kind enough to share information and photos of the water tower with me.
So, here's the deal. Charles A. Gombert designed the 175-foot, Victorian Gothic style water tower, which was built in 1873 and cost $50,892. It is made from cream-colored "Wauwatosa cut" limestone and Cream City bricks.
The North Point Water Tower was constructed as an essential component of the system. The standpipe it covered relieved the pulsations caused by the pumping engines, which, in turn, reduced pressure on the water mains and minimized breakage.
However, by 1963, modern pumping equipment replaced the system and the water tower was taken out of service. The original pump station – as well as the "new" one constructed in 1963 – is at the base of the hill just below the tower.
In 1968, the Milwaukee Landmark Commission identified the tower as an official landmark.
Today, it continues to serve as a night beacon for lake shipping. It remains one of Milwaukee's most recognizable structures as well as a symbol of our precious, abundant water supply. I have not completely given up on getting inside the tower someday to fulfill some sort of Rapunzel fantasy, but for now, I am satisfied to enjoy it – in all of its Gothic splendor – from the outside.
Preferably, from the lakefront with a dish of custard in my hand.