The History of the Water Sphere

Union Township is the shining star of Union County, bordering the premier New Jersey communities of Elizabeth, Hillside, Springfield, Kenilworth, Roselle Park, Irvington, Maplewood, and Millburn. With over 54,000 residents, 260 miles of municipal roads and sanitary sewers, 80 miles of storm sewers, and hundreds of catch basins, Union leads New Jersey as an ideal place to live. According to the Union Township web site, In 2000, the Township of Union was honored to receive the United States White House designation as a Millenium Community. The Township of Union looks to the future with great optimism, and is proud to designate itself a great place to live, raise a family and do business.”

The World's Tallest Water Sphere

World’s Tallest Water Sphere
Artist’s Rendering, 2003

The author of this web site, graduate of Union High School class of 1980, has grown up with the World’s Tallest Water Sphere, admiring it’s prime location near the Kawameeh Swamp (kawameeh is the
Lenni Lenape word for “swamp”) and overseeing the world’s toughest highway exit at the Garden State Parkway and West Chestnut Street.

Vehicles must decelerate the 37 yard long exit ramp from the normal 84 m.p.h. unenforced speed limit
down to 12 m.p.h., while traversing rough pavement and loose gravel, making a sharp right turn of 330 degrees, descending 30 feet to the underpass below, as 3 or 4 rush hour maniacs cling to your rear bumper. In winter and in rainstorms, the maneuver is exacerbated by water, slush, sand, and highway salt. You have approximately 10 milliseconds to view the World’s Tallest Water Sphere from this vantage point.

Despite the lack of visitor ammenities, toilet facilities, tram or shuttle car arrangements, Kodak sponsored Photo Spots ™ , or plush mascots, the World’s Tallest Water Sphere is admired by millions of New Jersayans and particularly by the hundreds of thousands who have called Union Township home.

The World's Tallest Water Sphere

World’s Tallest Water Sphere
Its Full Majesty

At the World’s Tallest Water Sphere Museum in Austin, Texas, visitors may arrange to view this nearly 14 inch (35 cm) tall styrene plastic model of the water tower. The tower is constructed from two HO scale “Modern Water Tower” model kits from Walther’s Model Railroading Cornerstone Series. While the stock kit water tower is a puny 9.5 inches (24 cm) tall, the author has taken two kits, and surgically cut and spliced them together to achieve the graceful towering dimensions of Union Township’s World’s Tallest Water Sphere. It’s hard to believe, but this is an over 47% improvement over the height of the original model kit.

The model is assembled with Testor’s Liquid Plastic Cement, primed with Krylon Gray Primer, painted with Tamiya Light Blue Metallic (TS-54), and protected with a coat of Krylon Matte Sealer.

The World's Tallest Water Sphere

World’s Tallest Water Sphere
Expensive Helicopter Photo

Other custom features of the model include the two futuristic circular antennae beneath the base of the sphere (constructed with brass wire), the Gothic white “Union” lettering (dry transfer decals), and the all-important “water pump” logo one third of the way up the shaft of the tower (hand painted with acrylics). Some interpret this emblem as a water pump, but others have claimed it is an early iconic representation of the symbol used by the artist Prince during his turbulent days as a slave an employee of Sony Music.

Another important feature of the tower is the “weeping paint” used to make the six foot (2m) tall letters of the word Union. Some have claimed to see the image of Jesus Christ weeping for the travellers of the crowded Garden State Parkway. Others claim it is the cheap white latex paint. To date no scientific tests have supported either theory.

The World's Tallest Water Sphere

World’s Tallest Water Sphere
Circa 1840

Long time enthusiasts of the tower will remember its initial proposal at the Battle of Monmouth of the American War for Independence. Here in the hot summer of 1778, Continental Army General George Washington and British General Sir Henry Clinton both longed for a cool drink of clean, municipally filtered water. Even though some drinking water was available, it usually came from wells which could not provide the water pressure of a giant water sphere. Both generals envisioned some sort of
pressurized water blaster which could shoot water up to 30 feet, recommended for ages 4 and up, perhaps with a shoulder strap and authentic purple and green Hulk styling.

It was not until the mid 19th century that the first water sphere was constructed in Union Township. Shown here in its unveiling, the township residents laughed at its paltry height and petitioned the five members of the Township Committee, elected at-large for staggered three-year terms, for a taller water sphere, one that would command the respect of the entire world. The tall tower was such as success that eventually all of New Jersey’s important highways would pass within 1 mile of the tower. Today the tower provides millions of impressions each day. Motorists who see the tower are inspired by its majestic stature and artistic beauty.

Comments are closed.