The World’s Tallest Water Sphere Museum is now Open to All

February 18th, 2020
The WTWS lobby

The World’s Tallest Water Sphere Museum is now open. I’ve added a section to the WTWS site that has a virtual museum with lots of artwork, photos, and fun stuff.

http://www.worldstallestwatersphere.com/museum/

The WTWS Museum has been operating as a physical museum in Austin, Texas since 2003. This virtual version of the WTWS Museum was created in 2020. The virtual museum has the advantage of 24 hour a day access and higher crowd volumes.

Please let me know of any navigation, image problems, misspellings with your mobile or browser.

An Idea for a Union, New Jersey T-shirt

February 12th, 2020

Since Route 22 is the closest highway to the World’s Tallest Water Sphere, and since it is notoriously crowded and difficult to drive, I thought a T-shirt honoring those Route 22 drivers would be in order

Here is a rendering of a possible Route 22 driver T-shirt. Let me know what you think. Feel free to use the graphics that I stole from a T-shirt making site.

Route 22 driver T-shirt

Revisiting Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport

February 9th, 2020

As we have mentioned and admired in previous posts, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia has a beautiful water tower.

We wish them luck in tonight’s launch of Northrop Grumman’s 13th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station which will deliver more than 7,500 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/2020/02/09/nasa-tv-broadcasts-launch-of-u-s-cygnus-cargo-craft/

In previous WTWS articles we have reported damage to the water tower because of launch failures. We are glad to see the tower looking good and ready to go.

Here is a beautiful photo of the pre-launch with a late day full moon via the NASA website:

Garfield, Texas has a Crazy Water Sphere

January 25th, 2020

Southeast of Austin, Texas, along State Route 71, lies the small town of Garfield. Like many Texas towns, they have their own water tower.

Garfield, TX Water Sphere

Proudly, emblazoned with the text “Garfield WSC” (water supply company), this water tower is amazing and strange. The actual water container is a steel sphere. There is a pipe at the bottom, which supplies the pressurized contents of the water sphere above. There are three steel pipe legs, with rigid and cable bracing. One of the legs has interesting features: a pipe to supply water to the container and a ladder to provide maintenance access. Girdling the lower part of the water sphere is a walkway with railing.

Garfield residents should be proud of their water tower. It is a true sphere set upon a tripod stand. With no hidden access, no lights or antennas, one can see the naked, utilitarian, functional beauty of this water sphere.

May You Holidays Be Spherical

December 18th, 2019

One week ’til Christmas!

Balls on a tree

World’s Tallest Water Sphere Meme

December 6th, 2019
It's a water sphere

May Your Holidays Be Spherical

December 2nd, 2019
(Original photos provided by Adrienne Browne Dempsey and John A. Padula)

The Most New Jersey Photo Ever

August 23rd, 2019
Rainbows and Water Spheres
Rainbows and Water Spheres

Reader Alexandra Morrison Winkler (a.k.a. Alex W) submits this photo of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere taken on 2019-08-22. It has been called “the most New Jersey photo ever!”

Let’s tally up the wonderful New Jersey things in this photo:

  1. Steely almost-silhouette of World’s Tallest Water Sphere.
  2. Almost imperceptible lettering “Union”.
  3. Tower is over-burdened with mobile phone antennas in order to support large volume of callers.
  4. Beacon on tower lets you know Newark Liberty Airport is nearby.
  5. Traffic jams on both Route 22 and Parkway entrance.
  6. Driver taking photo through windshield of car.
  7. Iconic green signage of New Jersey.
  8. Gigantic EZPass toll device.
  9. Rain, clouds, blue and gray sky.
  10. Rainbows and Unicorns orbiting the tower.

Thanks for our reader submission of the day Alex.

World’s Tallest Water Sphere Interviews World’s Tallest Watersphere Band Splooge

May 19th, 2019

Recently the “World’s Tallest Water Sphere” site had a chance to interview the band Splooge and director Peter Ventrella about the movie “One Step Back”, Splooge’s past albums, and new music. We also got the chance to hear their impressions about Union’s wonder of the world, the World’s Tallest Water Sphere.

Splooge movie One Step Back directed by Peter Ventrella
Splooge movie poster for One Step Back directed by Peter Ventrella

WTWS: Why did you name your first album “World’s Tallest Watersphere”? What is your affinity to the water tower? Do you have any personal stories?

Lead Singer Tommy Diaz: I thought it was funny that it was called “the worlds tallest” when it wasn’t really that tall.
Guitarist Mike Novy: The largest one is in Saudi Arabia.
Bassist Jeff Phillips: We were being ironic because we questioned the validity of the sign. It seemed like some local propaganda.
Director Peter Ventrella: That was the album that convinced me to do the documentary, not only because the songs are great but because it captures the heart of New Jersey. The dive bars, working Joes, highways and, of course, the water sphere rising above it all.

WTWS: (Note that the “One Step Back” movie poster shown here has a fanciful position for the WTWS and its billboard, somewhere near Newark airport. Recreating the “Abbey Road” album cover on Interstate 78 is not recommended.)

Tommy Diaz Splooge lead singer
Tommy Diaz Splooge lead singer

WTWS: I listened to your “World’s Tallest Watersphere” and “Chunky Pop with a Fizz” albums. Can you straighten us out on when the albums and the songs first came out? Also can you clue us in to when the latest “From the Shed” album will be available?

Tommy: “Watersphere” came out in 2000 and “Chunky Pop with a Fizz” was released in 2003 during the filming of the documentary. “From the Shed Part 1” will be on iTunes August 1, 2019. “From the Shed Part 2” has already been recorded but we haven’t figured out when to drop it on the world yet!
Mike: Dan Jeram mixed and recorded both albums. Billy Siegel is mixing the new album. He plays with Dramarama as a keyboardist and also plays the keyboards on “From the Shed” and “The Irish Folk Song”.
Pete: Billy can be seen in the opening and closing chapters of the movie.

Mike Novy Splooge guitarist
Mike Novy Splooge guitarist

WTWS: Who writes the songs for Splooge? How much of the songs are done before playing them in the band setting? How much (such as the lyrics and the bass, guitar, and drum lines) are made in a band collaboration?

Mike: It’s a fluid situation.
Tommy: Every song is a collaboration. I write the lyrics after the rest of the band comes up with a riff or the music.
Jeff: We work on it as a band.
Drummer Drew Koski: Every time we play live we refine the songs. They are ever evolving. That’s what keeps it fun.
Tommy: That’s our cover story. Drew really writes all the lyrics and music himself. (Entire band except Drew laughs)
Pete: One of the things I liked about their music especially were Tommy’s lyrics. They are cryptic yet evocative. At one point during the filming, I thought I had deciphered the meaning to the lyrics on the song ‘Wildebeest’. And when I told Tommy, he said I was completely wrong.
Tommy: The great thing about lyrics is they mean something personal to each individual. So, I never talk about what they mean.

Jeff Phillips Splooge bassist and singer
Jeff Phillips Splooge bassist and singer

WTWS: You have a beautiful song “Water”. Was the song the inspiration for the album title or was the water tower an inspiration for the song?

Mike: The tower was not the inspiration for the song.
Jeff: We wrote the music first.
Tommy: I was in the studio listening to the music and saw a bottle of water and used the nonsense lyrics “water, water, water” as a place holder. I ended up liking this. The song took on more meaning as we developed it, but I don’t like talking about what it means to me. It’s more important how people interpret it.

WTWS: Have you visited the World’s Tallest Water Sphere site (http://www.worldstallestwatersphere.com)? If so what was your favorite article or aspect about the site?

Jeff: I thought it was amazing that there was a site devoted to this.
Tommy: Your site inspired us to want to play the album “World’s Tallest Watersphere” at the actual water sphere. Maybe we’ll do that one day when we’re 70 and finally hang it up. Like Splooge’s “Let It Be”. I can see it, people stopping their cars along the highway and crowding under the water sphere.
Mike: We’re not hanging it up until at least 85.
Jeff: Well, maybe 80.
Drew: But if we’re 80, we might not be able to get all our gear up to the top of the water sphere to play there.
Tommy: But seriously, we’re psyched someone else noticed this landmark like we did.

Drew Koski Splooge drummer
Drew Koski Splooge drummer

WTWS: From the movie, I see you have played many venues in New Jersey while holding down full time jobs. Did New Jersey music scene give you all the gigs could handle while juggling jobs and family? Did you have the desire to visit other US music hot spots like Boston, Nashville, Austin, or Los Angeles?

Tommy: I always had a desire to play Austin and Nashville.
Jeff: I’ve been watching Austin City Limits and have always wanted to play on that. Also, I’ve wanted to play Forty Watt club in Athens, Georgia where REM started.
Mike: Besides Madison Square Garden, I’d like to play a more intimate place like Irving Plaza.
Tommy: I’ve been to Austin and would love to play the Scratch House on 3rd Street.
Pete: Can you see a theme here? What venue do you think would be receptive to Splooge in Austin?

WTWS: Austin would love to see Splooge live! Venues like “the Mohawk”, “Stubbs”, or “Cedar Street” would be perfect. If Splooge played any bar during Austin City Limits festival or South By Southwest, the place would be packed.

Peter Ventrella "One Step Back" director with Splooge
Peter Ventrella “One Step Back” director with Splooge

WTWS: There are many poignant scenes in the “One Step Back” movie:
the personal struggles and tragedies, loss of family, and tension between making a living at good paying jobs and breaking it in music are engaging. Do the band members feel the last ten years have been more oriented towards work/family or towards music/band? Will “From the Shed” answer these questions?

Pete: I think the Splooge story is ever unfolding. The documentary is just a look at these two points in their lives. Whenever we get together now, I’m tempted to grab my camera and start filming again. But then I realize the first time took 14 years, and I put my camera away.
Tommy: In the last ten years the band has taken on a new importance for me. Now we’re focused on getting our music out to an audience, especially since the movie is out.
Mike: More questions will be raised than answered in “From the Shed”.
Jeff: “From the Shed” shows we’re still evolving as a band.

WTWS: For me the highlight of the movie is the gig in Lahinch, Ireland. The audience starts off extremely hostile. By the end of the night the crowd, the owner, and the band all appear happy. Have you had other shows where you felt it started poorly and then got back on track?

Tommy: There was the one time at a famous southern Jersey music venue where our original bassist got into a brawl with the sound guy and it erupted into a bar fight. We didn’t get back on track that night.
Pete: I think what was significant about the Lahinch gig in the movie was that Splooge were playing in front of a completely foreign crowd who were already antagonistic toward them because they didn’t show up for the Saturday night gig. To get an audience from what I thought was the point of no return to a room full of ardent fans was something you usually only see in Hollywood movies.
Mike: But we all lived it and so we know it really happened.

WTWS: Peter Ventrella, it seems you had all this Splooge footage, and then you did other work, so the Splooge documentary was put on hold. What effect did the 15 year gap have on the movie?

Pete: The film occupied much of my think time outside of work. I kept strategizing how I was going to cut it if I ever got the time to devote to the edit. Certain scenes like the Lahinch bar scene I would watch over and over late at night thinking, “I’ve got to get this out there somehow”. And finally, I found two great editors: Pam Raymer-Lea and Lauren Saffa who, through their deep understanding of what I was going for in the movie, made it a reality.
My personal take is that the gap between the first phase of filming and the last brought to the movie that sense of gravitas and simultaneous emotion of hope and wistfulness that I feel when the movie is over. So, I guess I can’t imagine what the movie would feel like any other way than with those two sections. You see the arc of several lives over a long period of time and it can’t help but make you think about the choices each of them have made. We wouldn’t have had this if we had stopped filming in 2004

WTWS: Thanks for answering our questions. What’s the best way to find out about upcoming Splooge music and shows?

Splooge: The best way to get the latest info on Splooge concerts and events would be to like their Facebook page @theRealSplooge. You can read about and stream the movie at the site “One Step Back Movie” . The new Splooge album “From the Shed” will be available on iTunes on August 1st, 2019.

More Beautiful WTWS photos from Adrienne Browne Dempsey

May 15th, 2019

Our most recent photos of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere come from intrepid photographer Adrienne Browne Dempsey. There are two wonderful photos from her Union tour today (2019-05-15):

WTWS from Burke Parkway

This photo is from the west of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere on Burke Parkway. This is a small tributary of the Elizabeth River that flows into the Kawameeh Swamp, then exits the swamp and flows into the Arthur Kill between New jersey and Staten Island.

WTWS from Kawameeh Park

This photo is from Kawameeh Park, near Kawameeh Middle School. I love how the photo shows nothing but water sphere, trees, and kids playing in the park.

Do You Know Union’s Neighbors?

May 3rd, 2019

Do you know Union, New Jersey’s nearest neighboring cities and towns? Union has the one and only World’s Tallest Water Sphere. However, let’s face it, Union has some good neighbors who might also see the WTWS and benefit from its awesome visage.

To get you started on this pop trivia quiz, here is a clue map. At the center is the outline of Union, New Jersey. Some roads, rivers, and other features might help you. See if you can name all cities and towns that touch Union’s boundaries.

Union boundaries
Union, New Jersey boundaries and neighbors clue map

Now for the answers. How many cities and towns could you name? How many did you name that actually touch Union?

If you said Cranford, Roselle, Newark, Summit, Mountainside, or Westfield, nice try, but no clean fresh Kawameeh drinking water for you.

If you said Elizabeth, Hillside, Irvington, Kenilworth, Maplewood, Millburn, Roselle Park, and Springfield, congratulations, you have a perfect score and qualify for World’s Tallest Water Sphere reader of the month!

Union neighbor boundaries
Union, New Jersey boundaries with neighbors answer map

The answers for this pop trivia quiz come from Open Street Map admin boundaries data from the US Geological Survey data. I followed the instructions at this site (https://www.nonprofittechy.com/2017/11/29/embedding-a-map-of-service-locations/) to import the data into Google Maps and generate the images above. So if your geography friend swears Cranford or Westfield touch Union, please take it up with the U.S. Department of the Interior. Thanks for reading this far.

Rarely Seen View of WTWS

May 2nd, 2019
Sayre Park view of the World's Tallest Water Sphere

Here is a rarely seen view of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere submitted by Adrienne Browne Dempsey on a recent site-seeing trip in Union. This is a view from Sayre Park which is wedged between Morris Avenue and Route 22 in the north east corner of Union.

Eventually this west branch of the Elizabeth River, which passes through Kawameeh swamp at the base of the WTWS, joins the main brain of the river. There the Elizabeth River forms the border between Union, Hillside, and Elizabeth. After passing through Elizabeth River Park and Mattano Park, the Elizabeth River joins the Arthur Kill which joins Newark Bay and Raritan Bay.

William Clark Contributes a WTWS Portrait

April 8th, 2019

William Clark of Philadelphia contributes this digital painting (made in November 2017) of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere in Union, NJ.

According to Clark: “My father-in-law would frequently pass the Union water tower with his two young daughters while living in Clark, New Jersey. One day, my now sister-in-law decided to utter her very first word during one of these frequent passes. Surprisingly, her first word was a compound word, “water-tower,” kindled by the Union water sphere itself.”

Click on the image for a larger version. Thanks to William Clark for submitting this colorful rendering of the WTWS.

New Jersey Band “Splooge” Celebrates World’s Tallest Water Sphere

April 6th, 2019

Westfield, New Jersey band Splooge recently released an album titled “World’s Tallest Watersphere”. The album from 2018 is available on iTunes, Spotify, and other music sites.

Although the “World’s Tallest Watersphere” album is very recent, the band has followed up quickly in 2019 with a full feature movie “One Step Back” (https://www.newjerseystage.com/articles/2019/02/23/one-step-back-the-rock-and-roll-odyssey-of-splooge/).

More info on Splooge coming soon. Listen, buy, and support your local bands.

Splooge: World's Tallest Watersphere album cover
Splooge: World’s Tallest Watersphere album cover
Splooge at the Rialto "One Step Back" movie premiere
Splooge at the Rialto “One Step Back” movie premiere


Colorful WTWS from 1993

April 3rd, 2019

Here’s a colorful photo of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere from 2013. This image is sent in by Steven Hans Lindner. According to Lindner, this photo was in the Union Township calendar of that year.

You can see more of his photos and contact Lindner at his website at https://www.lindnerphoto.com/index .

Steven Hans Lindner, c2013
Steven Hans Lindner, c2013

World’s Tallest Water Sphere Appears on News12 New Jersey

March 31st, 2019

With the title of “Texas Man Runs Museum Dedicated to New Jersey’s Famous Water Sphere”, this site had the pleasure of being the subject of reporter Brian Donahue’s Positively New Jersey segment on News12 New Jersey on 29 March 2019.

Brian’s story was a well-done two-minute forty-second video with great helicopter and on-site shots. Brian covered the water sphere history, the water sphere museum, and the spiritual aspect of the site. Brian also provided a nice selection of artwork from the site. Art shots were from contributors David Wuethrich, Bumper DeJesus, and David Kessler. The end of the segment had a brief mention of water spheres versus water spheroids.

All in all, quite enjoyable. Here are some screen shots from the broadcast:

News 12 intro

News 12 Reporter and Intro

Brian Donahue and site reporting

Brian Donahue and site reporting

Helicopter establishing shots

Dan reporting live from the WTWS Museum studio

Dan reporting live from the WTWS Museum studio

Interview with Armand Fiorletti

January 13th, 2019


On 2019-01-11, the World’s Tallest Water Sphere site had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Armand Fiorletti, discussing his role on the building of the Union water tower, his engineering projects, and Union history.

Mr. Fiorletti was born in January 1928 and is currently 91 years old. He worked many years for Grassnann and Kreh Inc. and later became Union Township’s first full time civil engineer. He later became an engineer for Union County.

Grassnann and Kreh (GK) was a civil engineering firm in Union that had many clients and provided design services to Union home builders, site developers, and engineering projects. Henry Kreh did civil engineering in Union for over 50 years. Although the firm is now defunct, the building still stands on Salem Road.

Working for GK after World War II, Mr. Fiorletti was well aware of the Bardy Farms on Union’s west side located in the Battle Hill area. He helped plan and lay out the golf course that was developed from farm land. After World War II, the need for housing was increasing and parts of the Bardy Farms were developed into industry and housing.

Although streets like Morris Ave., Liberty Ave., Springfield Ave., and Milltown Road existed at the time, new streets were needed. Mr. Fiorletti helped lay out Rahway Avenue and the streets off of Liberty Avenue: Hickory Road, Academy, Pinewood Road, Hemlock Road, and others. Mr. Fiorletti was also involved in the “siting” plan in which the road width, the utilities, and the lot sizes are designed. Fiorletti knew and remembered fondly the Cape Cod and split-level houses in the area.

Asked if he was aware of the builders of the houses on Willard and Arnold Place, Mr. Fiorletti said yes, and he also said he worked with the builders. Grassnann and Kreh did many designs to site those houses, and GK had contracts with Fred and Willard Wuethrich to build them. Willard Place is named after Willard Wuethrich. David Wuethrich, son of Willard, is a contributor to this site and graduated Union High class of 1980.

Later on, Fiorletti was also involved in the land development and siting north of the Larchmont reservation. He was familiar with Audrey Terrace, Alice Terrace, and Debra Way. He was impressed with the size of the houses the builders put on the plots.

About 1962, GK worked with Chicago Bridge and Iron Works to build a water tower for Union. Mr. Fiorletti was aware of the water pressure problems in the growing town of Union. The current WTWS site had water wells (still in use today) and a pump house, but more was needed.

Mr. Fiorletti developed the site plan and also served as project manager for the building of the WTWS. Although Chicago Bridge and Ironworks did the WTWS design, GK handled engineering issues for the town of Union. The planning took almost two years, but once building commenced, Mr. Fiorletti was impressed with the speed of completion, about one year. The Union water tower was completed in 1964 and to this day provides Union with clean water and steady water pressure.

We discussed the water system of Union. Mr. Fiorletti knew of Union’s well water from the Kawameeh swamp area. He also mentioned that there are wells all over Union. He said many of the older houses off of Liberty Avenue also have wells, some of them capped with man hole covers, and some still functioning. We both agreed that Union has some high quality and good tasting municipal water compared to the rest of the country.

Later on when Mr. Fiorletti became a full time engineer for the town of Union, he moved into Mayor Biertempful’s offices on Swanstrom Place near the public works yard.

Toward the end of the interview, we discussed much of Union history, from Connecticut Farms time to the present. Mr. Fiorletti is proud of his contribution to the World’s Tallest Water Sphere and Union history. We hope to talk with him again and find more interesting facts. Thank you Mr. Fiorletti. May your work on the WTWS continue to serve as a landmark, an inspiration, and a functioning utility of the Township of Union.

World’s Tallest Photobomber

June 18th, 2018

This photo submitted by well-know Unionite Tom Haggerty shows an unlikely photobomber, the World’s Tallest Water Sphere.

Nestled in between the bowling pin and ball, we see the light gray cue-ball-esque Union water tower.

Tom also sent a photo with tighter cropping, but I like this one better because it shows the WTWS in its Union context.

First we see a dilapidated “Hyway Bowl” sign with the barest of “Cactus Lounge” vestiges appearing on the ball. We also see from the marquee that nothing is going on today. We do see however that you can cash checks and sell your gold and diamonds there. Service to the customers!

We also see juxtaposed the beautiful sky and trees of New Jersey and the typical ugliness of US Route 22: endless saggy power lines, the now defunct Toys R Us sign, and lots of bad asphalt and gardening.

A Bird’s Eye View of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere

June 12th, 2018

Here are some wonderful photos of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere taken by Chad Aaronson (Chad’s YouTube link) recently. They are taken with a DJI quadcopter and show some views of the WTWS that only the birds get to see.

In the first photo we see the WTWS on a pleasant spring day. The cobalt blue sky contrasts nicely with the verdant green trees and Kawameeh swamp. You can see back to the Newark and Bayonne docks and the skyline of Manhattan in the distance. Below are the busy US Route 22 and Garden State Parkway highways.

Also quite visible is the maintenance of the tower. The uneven paint shows numerous touch-ups, patches and rust. It looks like it is time for a complete repainting. The tower gets quite a lot of use, not only for storing water, but there about 50 mobile phone antennas on the neck, and a red navigation beacon on top. The sign below reads “I’m not so easily replaced. Only Tap Water Delivers.”

Here’s a nice view of Union’s water tower close up. You can see that it is truly a sphere, not some crushed deflated spheroid or cylindrical abomination. Behold the spiritual center of Union, 218 feet (67 m) above Kawameeh Swamp.

Life Is Beautiful

December 28th, 2017

Armand Fiorletti, designerLife Is Beautiful. Sometimes you plant seeds, and you watch them grow. Sometimes you reach out to friends, and you see many more answer your call.

Our whole purpose on this site has been given back many-times in the emails, photos, stories, news articles, and connections we have made through your contributions.

None has touched my heart more than a connection back to the designer of Union’s World’s Tallest Water Sphere, Armand Fiorletti. This photo shows Mr. Fiorletti on his 90th birthday and enjoying his engineering-themed birthday. In his hands he holds a model of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere.

Our thanks go to Sandra Kubacki, daughter of Mr. Fiorletti, who lives in New Jersey and reached out to this site. She engineered the 90th birthday party, and we agreed to give this simple token, a 1980s blue model to the tower designer.

Thanks all for your contributions. You have shown that people can make the world better.