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Word Above the Street

The Art of the Water Tower

The “zebra” water towers atop the Starrett-Lehigh Building

Readers of this blog know that I love New York’s water towers. One of the most-read posts in the archive is a piece about Charles Kuralt, the great CBS newsman who also adored the “hoops and staves of the Middle Ages” that define our city skyline.

Next spring a new public art project will pay tribute to our water towers, sponsored by a group called Word Above the Street, a non-profit that uses art to advocate for social justice and sustainability. The idea for the water tower project followed a 2007 trip to Ethiopia by filmmaker Mary Jordan, who realized that one of the severest problems in Africa is that water might be abundant but “it was never in the right place.” The people of Ethiopia lacked containers — buckets, bottles — to transport the water from its source to their homes.  She returned determined to launch a campaign about the scarcity of water, and in time, the Water Tank Project was conceived.

For six weeks in Spring 2013 hundreds of water towers all over New York City will be transformed by established and emerging figures in art, music and science. A contingent of students from the city’s public schools will also be involved. [continue reading…]