You gotta wonder: did the people who designed the water tower in Ypsilanti know what they were doing? What was that little bit of architectural blueprinting? Innocent or intentional? Was it supposed to resemble a morel mushroom? A pussy willow? An ice cream cone? A microphone? No matter what the intent of the shape was, it will always be known for resembling something else: let’s just refer to it as a “Little Elvis”.

The design is referred to as “Queen Anne” style…which makes me wonder about Queen Anne.

Ironically, the tower sits on the highest (!) point in Ypsilanti, completed wayyy back in 1890 and cost $21,435.63. A few years later in 1898, Ypsilanti residents were getting charged extra for each faucet they had, what business they owned, and how much livestock they had.

LIVESTOCK: $1 per cow
SALOON OWNERS: $7 for one faucet, $3 for each additional faucet, $1 for each pool table.

If the people didn’t pay up they were socked with a fifty dollar fine and ninety days in jail. Was all this an attempt to help pay the cost of the water tower? I wouldn’t bet against it.

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Made of Joliet limestone
147 feet tall
85-foot base
250,000-gallon steel tank

So many jokes have been made about this water tower, that many Ypsilantians groan “oh geez, here we go again” every time a newbie comes into town with the same old comments and jokes. The tower has been lovingly called “The Brick D**k” and has an ages-old legend: it will falter, shatter, and crumble to the ground “if a virgin ever graduates from Eastern Michigan University.”

Even with the snickers, giggles, and humor at Ypsilanti’s expense, the tower is one of Michigan’s Historic Sites, complete with its own marker and separate plaque. The water tower has even won accolades by magazines and other media for being “The Most (‘Little Elvis’) Shaped Structure in America.”

A fine legacy, indeed.

The Infamous Ypsilanti Water Tower


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