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Old Fresno Water Tower

A water tower enthusiast? Visit the Old Fresno Water Tower. Old Fresno Water Tower is a historic water tower. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes it. In 1891, a Chicago architect, George Washington Maher, was commissioned to create Fresno’s water tower. It was completed in 1894 and was in continuous service until 1963 when the pumping mechanism became obsolete. Built in the American Romanesque style, it rises 109 feet tall and has a water tank with a capacity of 250,000 gallons. It’s made of red bricks, with each layer smaller than the one before it to create a beehive impression. It also includes a two-foot thick inner wall and a fourteen-inch thick outside wall. Between the two walls lies a tunnel, or hollow area, roughly three feet wide. Over the brick structure, the exterior of the tower has a painted surface. The tank’s original plans called for three floors to be built beneath it, but only the second was completed. It was eventually taken down. A library was supposed to be on the second and third floors in the original plan, but it was never built. The first level was utilized as a parking meter maintenance facility for numerous years. The second level was removed in 2001, and the interior of the tower was refurbished to become the City and County of Fresno’s visitors’ center. A landscaped plaza and a separate bathroom structure were created adjacent to the tower as part of the refurbishment. The tower was rebuilt into a visitors’ center and is now Fresno’s most recognizable and enduring architectural landmark. Every year, some 3,000 people visit the tower, and water tower enthusiasts go from all over the world to view it. A memorial plaque honoring George M. Bowman, who died in 1984, is outside the tower. Bowman is honored with this water tower in honor of his 36 years of loyal service to the city of Fresno and his achievements as a navy commander. He was also the city’s first chief engineer, the general manager of the Water Department, and the designer of groundbreaking electrical systems for street lighting, several well-known public buildings, and Chandler Air Field. The Fresno Art Council took over the operation of the water tower in 2014, and it currently houses an art gallery. You’re in for a treat whether you’re a first-time visitor to Fresno or a long-time resident who has never visited the tower. It’s a historical treasure that’s a visual feast, complete with an art gallery featuring local artists’ work and a gift store selling souvenirs. Soon, the Frida Café will be housed in the Water Tower.

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