Address: 6280 W. Touhy Ave., Niles, Illinois. County/parish: Cook.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places April 17, 2019.
The Leaning Tower of Niles is a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Located in Niles, Illinois, it was completed in 1934 by industrialist Robert Ilg as part of a recreation park for employees of the Ilg Hot Air Electric Ventilating Company of Chicago. It is situated at 6300 W. Touhy Avenue.
Some speculate that part of the motivation to construct the tower was to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A more likely explanation is its original functional purpose, to store water for outdoor recreational swimming pools. In 1960, the descendants of Robert Ilg donated part of the park for the construction of the Leaning Tower YMCA. Other amenities of the employees' recreational park included a wooden toboggan run, which was in decay but still visible in the 1960s.
A study in 2014 concluded that the Leaning Tower of Niles is in need of about $600,000 in repairs.
On November 17, 2015, the Niles Village Board approved a proposal for the village to purchase the Leaning Tower from the YMCA for $10. The Board also approved a contract to spend $550,000 to repair and renovate the building.
On March 15, 2016, Niles voters passed a non-binding referendum approving of the village spending the money to renovate the tower. The tower was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.
The Leaning Tower of Niles contains five bells. Three of the bells are thought to be several hundred years old, and to have been cast in Italy. How they came to be included in the tower is not known.(read more...)
National Park Service documentation: https://npgallery.nps.gov/AssetDetail/NRIS/100003645