It had been more than 20 years since the public got such a view of this relic, and it’s uncertain when people will have such access again.
But for a few hours at least on Aug. 19, people in and around Ypsilanti, Michigan, had the opportunity for a unique experience.
In celebration of its 200th anniversary, the city of Ypsilanti allowed the public inside for a tour of an iconic water tower that was built in 1890 at a cost of $21,435.63.
“From 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. we only had 24 visitors,” said Sean Knapp, director of service operations for the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority. “Once word got out that the tower was open, a line formed around the tower, and by 4 p.m., we had over 350 visitors.”
There hadn’t been a public tour of the tower since 2001. Tours were often conducted during the Ypsilanti’s annual heritage festival, but the city decided to discontinue tours following the Sept. 11 attacks, said Sean Knapp, director of service operations for the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority.
A structure made from Joliet limestone, there are 139 steps to the top. Those who climbed all the steps and perched themselves on the catwalk that wraps itself around the top of the tower enjoyed a scenic view of the city.
“The views from the catwalk are always the most talked about,” Knapp said. “Heard stories from residents that visited the tower 30 years ago during the Heritage Festival. It’s amazing to hear from our residents when they learn that the tower is still in service.”
Of course, the popularity of the viewing on Aug. 19 begs the obvious question: Will the city open the tower up for more tours in the future?
Knapp said that’s a possibility.
“We absolutely would love to share it with our community,” he said. “We are currently trying to figure out what that looks like, especially after the success of the bi-centennial tour.”