Stand Pipes — Vol. 1

by Paula Bosse

For some reason I’ve recently become fascinated by late-19th- and early-20th-century stand pipes (sometimes written as standpipes) — early cylindrical water towers which were often the centerpieces of postcards and were local structures which elicited pride in the townsfolk. Aside from serving a utilitarian purpose, they were often also aesthetically appealing — and always imposing. Here are a few I particularly like.

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Above, Hyannis Massachusetts — Hyannis Water Works (see a larger image here). (All other images are larger when clicked.)

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Below, Quincy, Massachusetts.

MA_standpipe_quincy-MA

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Onset, Massachusetts — with Dummy Bridge (postmarked 1920).

MA_standpipe_onset-MA_postmarked-1920_hippostcard

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West Roxbury, Massachusetts — Bellevue Stand Pipe (postmarked 1893).

standpipe_bellevue-standpipe_west_roxbury-MA_1893

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Lawrence, Massachusetts, ca. 1905 (via Lawrence Public Library).

MA_standpipe_lawrence-MA_ca-1905_lawrence-public-library

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Below, Bangor, Maine — during the day.

ME_standpipe_bangor-ME_ebay_fire-station

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Bangor, Maine — at night.

ME_standpipe_bangor-ME_night_hippostcard

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Burlington, New Jersey (postmarked 1908).

NJ_standpipe_burlington-NJ_1908_ebay

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Netherwood, New Jersey — Plainfield Water Supply Co. (postmarked 1908).

NJ_standpipe_netherwood-NJ_postmarked-1908_ebay

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Suffolk County, New York — the somewhat whimsical Edward Larocque Tinker Estate stand pipe, with windmill (1910) (via Queens Library).

NY_standpipe_tinker-estate_queens-NY_1910_queens-library_windmill

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Kincardine, Ontario, Canada — a wonderfully atmospheric photo showing a dark stand pipe next to the Knox Presbyterian Church.

ONT_standpipe_kincardine-ONT_ebay

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Easton, Maryland — with a crown (1912).

MD_standpipe_easton-MD_1912_ebay

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Easton, Pennsylvania, with water house (postmarked 1908).

PA_standpipe_easton-PA_1908_ebay

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Kutztown, Pennsylvania — next to the tennis courts on the grounds of the Keystone State Normal School.

PA_standpipe_kutztown-PA_ebay

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Lancaster, Pennsylvania — this is fantastic.

PA_standpipe_lancaster-PA_ebay

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — here’s an interesting drawing showing a Philadelphia Water Works stand pipe from 1853, originally envisioned with a 16-foot statue of George Washington perched on top (more on this cool-looking tower in an interesting article by Ken Finkel on the Philly History Blog, here).

PA_standpipe_philadelphia_1853_ebay

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Germantown, Pennsylvania — lastly, an illustration depicting the raising of the first-ever stand pipe in the United States, on Aug. 13, 1851 (via The Library Company of Philadelphia).

PA_standpipe_germantown_library-company-of-philadelphia_1851

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But, wait! There’s more…. coming soon!

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Sources & Notes

Unless otherwise noted, all images were found on eBay.

An exhaustive history of stand pipes can be found at the Documentary History of American Water-works website, here.

Some of these structures are still standing — a few are listed at Wikipedia here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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