The World's Tallest Water Sphere
World's Tallest Water Sphere, circa 1995

The World's Tallest Water Sphere - Union, New Jersey

Updates - Please Read

2005/10/21 - Due to outstandingreader feedback and popularity, the World's TallestWater Sphere now has its own official domain and site.Please visitThe World's Tallest Water Sphere.All future updates to appear on the official site.

This site contains facts, information, and modelling hints for theWorld's Tallest Water Sphere located in Union, New Jersey.Centered at the crossroads of the Garden State Parkway (exit 139), Interstate Route 78,U.S. Routes 22 and 124, and Morris Avenue (State Route 82), millions of motorists viewthis giant blue water tower each year.It is estimated that Union's Water Sphere has more viewers per yearthan other famous towers such asGiotto's Campanile in Florence, Italy,the Tower of London, United Kingdom,Coit Tower, San Francisco, andthe Celtic Round Tower at Glendalough, Ireland.

Union Township is the shining star of Union County,bordering the premier New Jersey communities ofElizabeth, Hillside, Springfield, Kenilworth, Roselle Park,Irvington, Maplewood, and Millburn.With over 54,000 residents, 260 miles of municipal roadsand 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 StatesWhite House designation as a Millenium Community. The Township of Unionlooks to the future with great optimism, and is proud to designate itselfa 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, hasgrown up with the World's Tallest Water Sphere,admiring it's prime locationnear the Kawahmee Swamp (kawahmee is theLenni Lenape word for "swamp")and overseeing the world's toughest highway exitat the Garden State Parkway and West Chestnut Street.

Vehicles must decelerate the 37 yard long exit rampfrom the normal 84 m.p.h. unenforced speed limitdown 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 isexacerbated by water, slush, sand, and highway salt.You have approximately 10 milliseconds to view theWorld'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 ™ ,offical web sites, or plush mascots,the World's Tallest Water Sphere is admiredby millions of New Jersayansand particularly by the hundreds of thousandswho have called Union Township home.

The World's Tallest Water Sphere
World's Tallest Water Sphere, it's Full Majesty
At the World's Tallest Water Sphere Museum in Austin, Texas,visitors may arrange to view this nearly 14 inch (35 cm) tallstyrene plastic model of the water tower.The tower is constructed from twoHO scale "Modern Water Tower"model kits from Walther'sModel 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 splicedthem together to achieve the graceful towering dimensionsof 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 includethe 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 upthe shaft of the tower (hand painted with acrylics).Some interpret this emblem as a water pump, but others have claimed it is anearly iconic representation of the symbol used by the artistPrince during his turbulent days as a slave an employee of Sony Music.

Another important feature of the tower is the "weeping paint" used to makethe six foot (2m) tall letters of the word Union.Some have claimed to see the image of Jesus Christweeping 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 theBattle of Monmouth of the American War for Independence.Here in the hot summer of 1778, Continental Army General George Washingtonand British General Sir Henry Clinton both longed for a cooldrink of clean, municipally filtered water.Even though some drinking water was available, it usually came from wells whichcould not provide the water pressure of a giant water sphere.Both generals envisioned some sort ofpressurized 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 greenHulk styling.

It was not until the mid 19th century that the first water sphere wasconstructed in Union Township.Shown here in its unveiling, the township residentslaughed at its paltry height andpetitioned 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 highwayswould 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 statureand artistic beauty.

Thank you for reading this far about the World's Tallest Water Sphere in Union, New Jersey.Those who love the tower might also enjoy my othermodeling constructions including theCeltic round tower,Campanile dice tower,Round medieval dice tower,Basswood dice tower,Laser cut dice tower

If you have stories of Union Township's World's Tallest Water Sphere,please let me know.I intend to research the tower and provide more pages ofits construction, impact on world art and history,and the emotional effect of the tower on its visitorsand the residents of Union Township, New Jersey.


2005/10/21 - Due to outstandingreader feedback and popularity, the World's TallestWater Sphere now has its own official domain and site.Please visitThe World's Tallest Water Sphere.All future updates to appear on the official site.

2003/10/27 - Erin Reilly,Corporate Communication/Government Affairs Representative of theElizabethtown Water Companyhas sent me the following fun Union Water Sphere facts:
  • 212 feet tall
  • holds 250,000 gallons of well water
  • built in 1964 by Chicago Bridge and Iron Industries
  • last painted in 1994. 20 year paint life-expectancy
  • drained and inspected every other year
2003/11/03 - Robert Misseck, reported forthe Newark Star Ledger has alerted me to his 2003/09/05article containing these facts:
  • a 216 foot tower in Edmund Oklahoma is taller and holds morewater, but technically that design is a water spheroid. Union'sWater Sphere is still the tallest true water sphere.
  • Chicago Bridge and Iron also has constructed water towers inHightstown, Tuckerton, Long Beach and Salem, New Jersey.
  • Armand Fiorletti of Linden remembers being a part of the team that built the sphere in Union while a member of the engineering firm of Grassman, Kreh & Mixer Inc. of Union."I am still proud of the fact that I helped build it, and when I pass itwith someone I tell them, 'I helped build that.'"
2004/07/13 - Max Burbank,stepson of former Union Mayor Dr. Edward Goodkin,describes the Union Water Sphere as a haunting, omnipresent eye andsends the following anecdote:

"My stepfather insisted the reason for the size of the Water Sphere was that allresidents of Union Township tended to flush their toilets during prime timecommercial breaks, and it was the only way to maintain sufficient pressure."

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Last modified: Sunday, 28-Apr-2019 14:07:09 MST.