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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Dept. of Public Works: 1900

Dept. of Public Works: 1900

Ypsilanti, Michigan, circa 1900. "Water tower." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Welch Hall

Actually, that's Welch Hall to the right, not the McKinney (Student) Union, which would have been directly behind the water tower except that it wasn't built until about 20 years later.

Eastern Michigan University

By the way, that's Eastern Michigan University on the right. The building is where the current Student Union is.

Continue West on this road for about, I dunno... about a mile, and you come to Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan.

The tower today is missing that snazzy little cupola on top, although the base still remains. Sort of looks like a lighthouse or beacon of some kind.

Ypsilanti was also the home of the Tucker automobile company, but I think this landmark may be our greatest claim to fame!


It's barely changed in 110 years! I had a good view of it from my ninth-floor dorm across EMU's campus a couple years back -- at Christmas they always put a little lighted star on the tip.


I feel so inadequate.


I grew up in Ypsi and lived behind the "brick ***k" when I was in school a few years ago. I miss it so much! Thank you! More pics of Michigan Normal School Please!

Is that a water tower

in your town, or are you glad to see me?

Oh, yeah

It's still there. I attended Eastern Michigan University, which is right across the street, in the early '90s. Even though I now live just east of Jackson, I occasionally drive past this giggler to get from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti via Washtenaw Avenue.

By the way, I've been enjoying this site for over a year. This is my first post.

[Welcome to the Hotel California! - Dave]

The lady on the left is

... spellbound.

It lives!

I can firm that the Ypsilanti Water Tower still thrusts skyward. It even won a "Most Phallic Building" award in 2003.

View Larger Map


No mature adult can ignore the stunning Freudian symbolism.


When I was at university at Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti was called "Ypsitucky" in reference to all the Kentucky immigrants who landed there.

Kalamazoo had a similar water tower. The legend was that it would collapse when the first virgin was graduated from WMU.

The Consequence of Repression

It's Phallic Symbolism Day on Shorpy and I'm lovin' it! You don't have to be a shrink to see that the designer of this innovative structure had some unresolved and repressed "issues". Thank goodness that such repression was more prevalent then, when buildings were built to last for generations, as opposed to today when buildings aren't intended to last at all. I hope this manly tower still stands. Does anyone know?

Sometimes a water tower ...

Yeah ... so that's uhh ... hmmmm ... yeah.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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