August 16, 2021

Water Towers in NYC Aren’t Ancient City Relics, They Still Serve a Very Important Purpose Today

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What is a water tower and how do water towers work? Here’s the scoop behind the water towers in NYC.
Looking up into a blue sky and white fluffy clouds at three water towers perched atop buildings in SoHo, NYC with a red and white Chanel add painted on the side of one of the buildings

Random fun fact about me: I am obsessed with water towers!

Look up anywhere in NYC and you will see water towers perched high atop buildings all throughout its 5 boroughs, standing watch over the city below. There are roughly 15,000 of them, and although they may look like relics of the past, most are still very much in use today!

Water towers first came on the scene in the 1800s when buildings started to be constructed taller than 6 stories. The city's main water infrastructure couldn’t handle the water pressure for high-rises, so these towers were needed to pump, store, and distribute water safely to the 7th floor and above. They operate a lot like a toilet -- water is pumped up from the basement using electric pumps, and as the water level in the tank recedes from use, a float valve will allow more water in to refill it.

Water towers are made of both steel and wood, but wooden tanks are preferred due to their natural temperature regulation capabilities. Each ones holds about 10,000 gallons of water and costs around $35,000 to build, and the number of water towers needed per building depends on its size. While most require only one, the World Trade Center needs 16 to meet its water demands!

To me, these water towers are one of the most iconic elements in the city's skyline, and even after nearly 15 years of living there, I have never gotten tired of photographing them!

So tell me in the comments below something completely random that you love and that you can't take too many pictures of!

Looking up into a blue sky and white fluffy clouds at three water towers perched atop buildings in SoHo, NYC with a red and white Chanel add painted on the side of one of the buildings

Water Towers in NYC Aren’t Ancient City Relics, They Still Serve a Very Important Purpose Today

What is a water tower and how do water towers work? Here’s the scoop behind the water towers in NYC.

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Looking up into a blue sky and white fluffy clouds at three water towers perched atop buildings in SoHo, NYC with a red and white Chanel add painted on the side of one of the buildings

Water Towers in NYC Aren’t Ancient City Relics, They Still Serve a Very Important Purpose Today

What is a water tower and how do water towers work? Here’s the scoop behind the water towers in NYC.

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