ON APRIL 3rd, I went on a field trip with a local photography club to the Compton Hill Water Tower, located on South Grand Boulevard in Saint Louis, Missouri.
This decorative tower was used as a standpipe, regulating the uneven water pressure generated by the enormous reciprocating steam pumps used in the late 19th century. Out of hundreds originally made, only seven standpipes such as these still exist in the United States; three of them are in Saint Louis, while the most famous example is perhaps the water tower in Chicago. These were made obsolete by the use of smaller electric centrifugal pumps, which provide uniform water pressure.
I've visited this tower many times, so I hope to provide some different views. These photos were taken with two separate cameras: my newer one has much better image quality, and the older one has a much longer telephoto lens.
A wrought-iron staircase winds around the standpipe. These stairs are designed to be comfortable and easy to climb, with plenty of places to stop and rest. This tower was specifically designed with the general public in mind, allowing visitors to climb to the top and enjoy the view. An older mind-set, dating from antiquity and only ending with the Victorian era, thought that public works ought to be beautiful and easily accessible to the public.
The top of the standpipe. There are some modern electronics installed here.
A smaller staircase leads upward to the observation deck.
Looking down those stairs.
The observation deck offers a nearly 360 degree panorama of the city, and these windows open up, allowing an unobstructed view.
The tower is open to the general public on the first Saturday of each month from April to November from noon until 4 p.m. The $5 admission fee pays for the upkeep of the tower.
Downtown Saint Louis, showing the Gateway Arch and the new Busch Stadium.
Saint Louis University, founded in 1818, and led by the Society of Jesus.
The former Firmin Desloge Catholic hospital. The chapel there was designed by Ralph Adams Cram and is featured in the book Catholic St. Louis: A Pictorial History.
The old Lemp Brewery, closed down with Prohibition.
Beyond an industrial district is the magnificent Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, home of an apostolate of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
Rooftops of some homes in the neighborhood.
A view along Shaw Boulevard. I like the pale green of the new leaves on the trees.
Compton Hill is one of the highest points in the city, and at its peak is a water reservoir. For a while, the basin was an uncovered pool; later, it was covered and had public tennis courts on top. Now, new cylindrical water tanks are hidden behind the decorative walls.
Looking down the tower. Your devoted blogger has little fear in doing what is needed to take pictures for you.
Back down on ground level, a view of the nicely ornamented reservoir.
A decorative fountain on the reservoir wall.
Website of the Water Tower and Park Preservation Society: http://www.watertowerfoundation.org
Click here for my older photos from the tower.