Suburban Skyview: This Leaning Tower is a symbol of Niles, a memorable spot for summer concerts
It's not Italy. It's Niles.
We all have seen it in our travels through this Northwest suburb, a towering sculpture made of steel, concrete and precast stone, a local icon, a recently named historic landmark and most famously known worldwide for starring in the opening Chicago-area montage of the film "Wayne's World."
Its 17th- and 18th-century bronze church bells, which are supposed to be the oldest bells in the United States, ring out from the belfry at different times of the day.
It is unlike any other structure in the state of Illinois, leaning a bit to the left -- on purpose, about 7 feet, 4 inches off plumb compared with Pisa's 13-foot tilt.
The tower built in 1934 (600 years after the original) by Robert Ilg was intended as a place to store water and conceal water pumps for a nearby public pool that he created for his employees of his electric company.
He anchored the tower in concrete so that its lean would stay true.
The village of Niles and its sister city Pisa, Italy, established a pact in 1991, both having Leaning Towers. The one in Niles is a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower in Pisa. It's only 94 feet tall compared with the authentic's 177 feet.
A plaque at its base says it was built to honor scientist Galileo Galilei, who dropped objects from the top of the Pisa tower to prove his theory of gravity.
Only Galileo's name was dropped in Niles.
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