Crews Bring Down Iconic Swedish Museum Water Tower

Water in the tank is believed to have frozen during the winter and damaged the bands holding the tank together

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014  |  Updated 7:55 PM CDT
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Water tower damaged beyond repair following cold, snowy winter.

Water tower damaged beyond repair following cold, snowy winter.

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Andersonville Landmark Coming Down

The water tower atop the Swedish American Museum has been in place for more than 80 years. But this winter's harsh weather caused so much damage it has to be removed. Emily Florez reports.
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The water tower atop the Swedish American Museum in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood came down Thursday evening, a casualty of a long winter with sustained, bitterly cold temperatures and an abundance of snow.

Crews spent most of Thursday at the museum, located at 5211 N. Clark St., preparing for the tower's removal.

The tower was brought down to ground level using a large crane at about 6:45 p.m.

Water in the tank, painted to resemble the Swedish flag with a blue background and yellow cross, is believed to have frozen during the winter and damaged the bands holding the tank together.

Karin Abercrombie, the head of the museum, said the tower has been there since 1927. The museum moved into the building 60 years later.

"It's sad because it is an icon in our neighborhood, and it's something that is part of my history here in Chicago," Abercrombie said.

A symbol of the tower is included in the logo for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) called the tower a "a treasured symbol of the Andersonville community" in an email to constituents.

The museum closed Tuesday and will remain closed through Monday, March 24, according a statement on the museum's website. The closure forced authorities to move the polling place for Tuesday's Primary Election to the North Baptist Church, at 5244 N. Lakewood Ave.

"For us, it's sort of similar to the World Trade Center in New York," said Kim Reed, who lives next to the tower. "They would alwyas look into the sky and see this marking. For me, the water tower always tells me I'm home.

The 5200 block of North Clark Street closed to traffic and pedestrians at 6 a.m. Northbound traffic on North Ashland and North Glenwood avenues is not affected.

The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce is looking at other ways to keep some semblance of the iconic structure alive.

"It's a little upsetting to all of us, so we are working on taking it down, assessing the infastructure of the tank and figure out if we can repair it or get a different sign that looks like a water tower tank," Abercrombie said.

The winter of 2013-14 has been among the coldest and snowiest Chicago has experienced since 1884, when weather records started being kept.

The tower is the third to make headlines in Chicago in recent months. One tower, perched on a building on the 400 block of West Huron, sprang a leak and listed to one side last month. And in August, three people were injured when a tower fell from an apartment building on the 2800 block of North Pine Grove Avenue in Lakeview.

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