Water towers have become a ubiquitous part of New York City’s skyline. You never have to look up more than a few blocks to spot one of the roughly 15,000 tanks perched on top of a roof. New York gets its water supply from reservoirs north of the city. The water from these reservoirs is able to travel up to six floors without a problem. As buildings began to rise higher than six floors in the 1800s, it became necessary to add water towers to buildings. The water could be pumped, stored and distributed to floors beyond six stories.
There are three water tower manufactures in the city – all of which have been in business for at least 100 years. They usually produce circa 400 wooden water tanks every year. The wooden vessels can hold up to 10,000 gallons of water and provide insulation that prevents water from freezing in the winter and stay cooler during the summer. Their natural temperature regulation properties make them more popular than steel tanks. Wooden water towers cost roughly $30,000 and have a life span of 30 to 35 years.
Fun fact: While most buildings only have one water tower, the new One World Trade Center requires 16 water tanks in order to meet its water needs.