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“You Should Send Me Pictures of Water Towers”
Local expert builds tower compendium
Before we conceded defeat at the hands of the iPad, one of the best ways to entertain Kina on a long car ride was to ask her to look for “balls”, or water towers, along the side of the road. Set to the task, she would stare wistfully into the distance, hunting for reservoirs of potable water suspended above the trees. In New York City, they’re hard to come by, since our water cascades downhill from the Catskills to meet us; all our water, in other words, is more or less in the sky already. When we leave town, though, it’s water towers for days. The “balls” with which Kina is fascinated are a very particular kind of water tower—the spheroidal single-column elevated storage tank (third from left in the illustration at the top of the page)—but she appreciates the standard multi-column elevated storage tank (at left) and the menacing composite elevated storage tank (second from left) in a pinch.
In response to Kina’s call for photos of water towers, our friend Emma points out that the German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher spent roughly three decades producing two hundred and twenty-four stunningly bland photographs of water towers. Those photos are available in a book, but reading it is not nearly as entertaining as simply staring out the passenger window of a car and hunting them down yourself. As the vibrations of the road lull you halfway to sleep, the trees and highway exits melt into an emerald gray cloud, punctuated with hundred-thousand-gallon raindrops advertising local high school sports teams. Time to nap. Dream of cold water.
Unexpectedly, our publisher took the reins for today’s cover of Parade. We understand these are rainbows. She initially covered this illustration with stickers of hearts, but removed almost all of them before the print deadline. Less is more.