March 20th, 2014
Every once in a while there are some posts about the Union water tower that get me thinking about the intensity of thoughts and the enduring imprint of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere. This post is over two years old, but for this site, it is the first time we have read and commented on it:
People from all over the world that visited Union back in the day remember the cold blue steel hanging over the town like the Trinity bomb did over the New Mexico desert.
For me, it is a reminder of the cold war days, just like those Saturday morning air raid test sirens and nuclear blast drills in grammar school.
The imagery and the intensity of the comment really strikes me. Like the author, I am a baby-boomer and experienced the Cold War days, the air raid sirens, and the nuclear blast drills. “Duck and Cover!” I have the image of Union’s water tower in my mind and in my heart with many happy and poignant experiences. However, I do not associate the water tower with the Cold War or nuclear blasts.
This web site has instructed me for many years, that the experiences and the impact of Union’s water tower has affected many people much more strongly than many other public utilities.
January 12th, 2014
Our intrepid reporter Gina Signorella-Arlen sends in this report from December of 2013.
“Like Big Brother from “1984,” the WTWS is always watching… This time its likeness popped up at Monster Golf in Union, NJ.”
The artist is unknown, but if you find the name, please email, and we will update this article with the artist.
We love the black-light influenced glowing colors. The idea of Jack climbing the beanstalk and getting a drink of water from the “World’s Tallest Water Sphere” is ingenious too!
December 30th, 2013
WTWS on Christmas 2013
Here is a view of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere on Christmas Day 2013. This was a partly cloudy day around 30 degrees. Look at those clouds!
This photo show the grounds surrounding the WTWS from above. Notice the area is relatively clean and free of graffiti. The service buildings and asphalt looks in good shape too. The sky and trees look wonderful.
However, look at the state of that paint job. It looks like black mold on the underside of the sphere, and any semblance of a shiny auto paint job has left. Consider all the value the tower provides: five rows of mobile antennas, a navigation light, and fresh pressurized water for all the community. Time for a paint job.
Thanks for another year of browsing and supporting the World’s Tallest Web Sphere web site. I still have some reader contributions in the queue, and we hope to get to them soon.
November 16th, 2013
Here is a link to a video about water towers from the Today Show. In Rosemont, Illinois, there is a nice water tower with a great “rose and stem” paint scheme. Notice the multifunction tower with its water supply and mobile antennas functions, and also the classy artistic paint scheme. Great water tower.
Also notice, not a water sphere.
Today Show on Water Towers
July 28th, 2013
Shown in the photo is a nice water tower from Lakeway, Texas, just west of Austin. The tower is mostly light blue with a nice white golf ball with painted dimples at the top. What make the paint scheme so nice is that this water tower is a rarity – a true water sphere. The golf ball theme would look downright silly on a water spheroid.
The town of Lakeway has done a nice job with its water sphere. The paint is fresh, bright, and glossy. The tower is located a nice green hillock, right near the center of town, easy for all passerbys to see. There is a nice vent and signal light at the top. Like the Word’s Tallest Water Sphere, there are two collars near the top so stunt people can perform acrobatics, and space invaders can perform mind-control.
If you see a nice water sphere in your area, please take a photo and send it to the web master of this site, and we can feature it in a similar article. Be sure to include the location, time of photo, and any strange history of the water sphere.
July 19th, 2013
Here is a recent contribution from one of our biggest fans, Gina Signorella-Arlen:
April 14th, 2013
Here is a photo from November of 2009 of the dismantling and cleanup of the Austin Green Water Treatment Plant in Austin, TX. This photo looks south with Caesar Chavez Blvd. and Lady Bird Lake in the background.
This water tower was a true water sphere. Not very tall, but notice the wonderful circularity of its dome. The tower was nicely maintained with very-well-done ghostly white for its mantle. This photo also gives a rare glimpse of the maintenance and access ports above a water tower, something that only birds and people in planes can spot.
Doink! The fallen tower has landed on the cement pipes. Better get that backhoe to clean things up.
April 10th, 2013
A 25 year veteran of the Union County Police Department was found dead in Kawameeh Park, near Kawameeh Junior High School, in the vicinity of Union’s World’s Tallest Water Sphere. The 50 year old officer was found seated on a metal bench on the softball field at Kawameeh Park around 8 a.m. on 2013/04/10.
Nj.com “Veteran police officer found dead”
April 6th, 2013
As mentioned in this blog, the old style water spheres are no longer built and are a dwindling piece of American history. Today water spheroids are the more popular water tower, and the old “sphere atop a mast” style are no longer build.
Reader Greg Pyne sends this photo of a lovely-but-rusting water sphere spotted along the highway near Baltimore Maryland. Greg writes: “On the way back to Baltimore today, we noticed this poorly maintained water sphere just north of exit 8 of the New Jersey Turnpike, near the community of Twin Rivers. Perhaps some sort of fundraiser could be held to help restore this water sphere to its original glory. After all, while it may not be the WTWS, it still deserves to maintain its dignity. ”
We fully support the sentiment. A beautiful tower but in need of a paint job. Perhaps some mobile phone antenna and a light beacon will make the “Big N” loved again.
April 2nd, 2013
Here is a bronze or copper plaque near the World’s Tallest Water Sphere. This plaque is embedded in a bridge guard rail. I love the green verdigris color of the plaque, the green mossy color spilling below, and the tan/pink sand and gray aggregate of the concrete. Also note the Grecian columns and borders of the plaque. This must be important.
February 18th, 2013
This is a view of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere with some geese on 2012/12/17. The geese love the warm and wet field and seem to feed on anything that happens to be hopping in the grass.
Notice some nice color bands on the bottom half of the photo. Brown, beige, and green. Notice gray sky and gray tower on the top half.
January 25th, 2013
This time of year the Kawameeh Swamp is frozen. Plant-life is bare. Reeds are brown. Sky is gray. The World’s Tallest Water Sphere continues its work: pumping water from the aquifer, purifying water, storing water, and giving water pressure to all.
January 1st, 2013
This photo shows an aerial shot of the WTWS from a Boeing 737 taking off from Newark Liberty airport at about 8:00 in the morning of 2012/12/30. The altitude is 2000 feet or so, looking south. A 2 to 3 inch covering of snow from the previous day lays on the ground.
The sphere is visible in the center of the photo. Ponds of the Kawameeh swamp border the left and top of the tower. Route 22 and the Garden State Parkway border the bottom. Light could cover obscure many of the houses, but the WTWS shines through clearly.
Enjoy this rare aerial sighting and the rest of 2013.
December 31st, 2012
Regular reader Gina Arlen contributes this World’s Tallest Water Sphere sighting. “As you can see from my December 2012 trip to New Jersey, the WTWS survived Hurricane Sandy, Election Season, and the Mayan Apocalypse.” This photo was taken on 2012/12/27.
Indeed, the WTWS survives another tumultuous year. How true that the mighty WTWS can survive a hurricane and yet still provide clean fresh water. An alternative scenario in which the hurricane blows over the WTWS would be a calamity. Residents would have to import water in plastic bottles or even drink from the Kawameeh swamp. Next they would be wearing fur skins, eating raw corn, and hunted down by gorillas on horseback.
As stated on the new billboard, “I’m not so easily replaced. Only Tap Water Delivers.” The graphic on the billboard shows an outline of the state of New Jersey suspended in a drop of water. This image is evocative of the master/slave relationship between the WTWS and the residents of New Jersey. The WTWS controls the water supply and the residents are compelled to do the bidding of the WTWS. The benevolent tower is our leader and protector.
September 4th, 2012
Here is an odd-shaped tower that was photographed on 2012/09/02. It is in the central Texas Hill Country on Ranch to Market Road 12 between Dripping Springs and Wimberley. The water tower has the name of its residential subdivision “Woodcreek”.
The water tower is a very unique and odd shape. This site has often discussed the difference between water spheres and water spheroids, but this one is a completely odd-duckling. It’s a composite shape of two differing parts. Its top is taller than it is wide. It is not a sphere or spheroid, rather is appears to be a sphere with a cylindrical mid section. In other words, take a sphere, bisect it horizontally, and add a cylinder in the middle. It’s a beaut. Go see it near Wimberley, Texas.
More views and geographic location is available from Google Maps.
August 19th, 2012
It had been suggested in a recent Star Ledger newspaper article that a water tower in North Carolina, at 219 feet, had usurped the title of “World’s Tallest Water Sphere”.
While this blog and its author expressed admiration for the water tower in Erwin, it still remained to be seen at the time of the interview whether the tower was a water sphere or something else. Most companies have abandoned the manufacture of water spheres for various reasons. The Star Ledger article cited the manufacturer’s use of the word “hydrosphere” as a possible competitor. Colloquial use of hydro sphere, water sphere, or water tower made this issue somewhat opaque.
Recently, Steve Tysinger’s Panoramio feed featured a photograph of the Erwin, NC water tower, and the facts became clear. As one can see in the photo, the Harnett Country water tower is very nice, but it is not a water sphere. You can see from the squashed pillow profile, that the top of the tower is in fact a spheroid, symmetrical in east and west axes, but less pronounced in bottom to top axis.
It is a beautiful tower and a very good photograph. However, the World’s Tallest Water Sphere still resides in Union, New Jersey.
August 12th, 2012
Winemaker Snoqualmie of Paterson, Columbia Valley, Washington gives recognition to water towers with its 2006 cabernet sauvignon. The artwork shows an iconic 4-legged tower, with town name Prussia (?), set against a swirling background, reminiscent of Van Gogh or Degas. The label is overprinted with clear varnish echoing the swirling of the background beneath. Click on the image to get a larger view.
“Water towers are an iconic image in rural communities. Their classic profile reminds of the days gone by and the harvests yet to come.”
The World’s Tallest Water Sphere site applauds this fine wine and the excellent artwork of the bottle. Perhaps someday there will be a wine featuring the WTWS on the label.
February 22nd, 2012
Be sure to read today’s (2012/02/22) issue of The Star-Ledger to read Lisa Rose’s interview, see Jennifer Brown’s photographs, and hear our thought on the World’s Tallest Water Sphere. We marvel at and respect a new tall water tower in North Carolina, but there will always be a tattoo burned in our minds and hearts of Union’s water sphere.
“When people look at a Van Gogh painting, some of them love it and others hate it,” said Becker, “It’s open to interpretation whether a water tower is beautiful or not beautiful.”
Read the article and see the photos. (photo credit to Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger)
January 21st, 2012
Gina Signorella-Arlen writes to contribute this photo of the World’s Tallest Water Sphere taken on 2011/12/26:
She also suggests that the year 2012 may be the end of the WTWS due to the end of the Mayan calendar.
Some food for thought:
- Both the Mayan Calendar and the WTWS are circular in shape. Coincidence?
- On the winter solstice in 2012, the sun will align with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in 26,000 years. Will the WTWS have any impact on the energy generated from this cosmic alignment?
- Did the Mayan Calendar predict the rise of the WTWS as a harbinger of the end?
These are interesting questions to ponder. One thing is certain. People should take photos of the WTWS before it is too late.
September 4th, 2011
This research is courtesy of the statistics at Google Ngram viewer. The basis for this discussion is a list of frequency of words and their usage in the English language. Google has scanned and analyzed a large body of books from 1800 to 2000. Words and their frequency can be graphed over time to help analyze their popularity and usage in language media.
In the first graph, the World’s Tallest Water Sphere researchers have graphed the usage of the word “water” versus the word “sphere”. From the chart one can see the data for the word water (in blue) has a popular roller coaster trip over the years 1800 through 2000. It seems the popularity of the word peaked shortly before 1920. Why is this? Were steam engines, locomotives, and battle ships dominating the news? Were people wondering where these engines were to find water to fill their boilers?
In contrasting form, the data for the word “sphere” (in red) has a steady popularity, never rising or falling much. Perhaps the usefulness and wonder of the spheres has been constant since Euclidean times.
The most interesting insight comes to light when one analyzes the frequency of the words “water sphere”. This chart shows a steady rise from 1880 (the dawn of the steel-building era) to 1960. Then, in the early 1960s, when people began to experiment with expanded consciousness and free love, “water sphere” usage rockets into the stratosphere. Later in the 1980s, when people were tired of wearing leather and lycra, and Molly Ringwald stopped making movies, interest in “water sphere” returned to the calm, less frenzied frequencies of the 40s and 50s.
In our estimation, the World’s Tallest Water Sphere (built in 1964) had a large effect on public consciousness. The Union water tower creation correlates to a rise in the frequency of “water sphere” use in the English language. At the same time, there was no increase in the frequency of use of the single words “water” or “sphere”. In fact, “water” usage declines during the 1960s. After the movement of water engineers and design to ellipsoidal water towers in the middle 1980s, the popularity for “water sphere” declines from the WTWS-induced hysteria. It is clear to witness the imprint of Union’s water tower on the psyche of the English language.