Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois: Mamma Mia!






You can grab a hot dog from Papa Chris's across the street and make a day of it.

Niles, Illinois is a suburb of Chicago close to O'Hare airport with a terrific eccentric roadside attraction: a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in front of a YMCA. As you tool past motels, light industries and old strip malls on West Toughy Avenue, it appears like a beacon and it's surprisingly large and not tacky. Incongruous, maybe, but not tacky. In fact, it's quite beautiful. It was built in 1934 by industrialist Robert Ilg as part of a recreation park for employees of the Ilg Hot Air Electric Ventilating Company of Chicago. It was also is an elaborately decorative water storage tower for outdoor recreational swimming pools. In the early 1960s Ilg's family donated the land so the YMCA could be built and in 1991, the city of Niles established sister-city status with Pisa and spiffed up the place with fountains and nicer landscaping. I hope to make it to Pisa some day, but until I do I've got the next best thing to hold me over. Bravo, Niles! Bello!

4 comments:

Lori said...

can’t wait to show this to the kids :^)

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Thanks, Lori. It beats flying to Italy!

TheRandomTraveler said...

The photos of it look like the old tower, before it was remodeled...I used to pass by this place all the time when I was a kid...but never actually went to the YMCA....

Here is what the tower looks like now

vninfo said...

thanks you for post!