Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Demolition of the Hilltop Water Tower

A landmark that brings back a lot of fond memories for me is the Hilltop Water Tower located at the corner of 18th and Bahnson in Sioux Falls, SD. In the early 1970's, I attended 1st through 4th grade at the Cleveland Elementary Annex, which was a group of houses located just to the West of the tower on South Point Drive. I lived on the East side of Bahnson, so I passed the tower each day as I walked to and from school. Since the tower sat on the highest point in Sioux Falls, I can legitimately say I walked uphill both to and from school.

At the base of the tower was a merry-go-round, and my friends and I never missed an opportunity to get it spinning as fast as we could. In the winter, we spent endless hours sledding down the steep hill on the tower's West side. Those days were fun, and innocent.

Years later, when I sought out fun that wasn't so innocent, I found myself climbing that tower with a friend, and an older brother. I was probably 16 at the time, and the three of us thought it might be neat to shoot bottle rockets from the top of that tower. We didn't fall off or get arrested so, I guess it was our lucky day. Not a smart day, just a lucky day.

This past summer, the city of Sioux Falls decided it was time to bring the old water tower down. It hadn't been used for many years, and so its time had come. It made me sad to know that it was gone, that corner will never look the same, but hey, progress happens.

Luckily, I was able to get a hold of some photos of the tower's demolition:

In the first photo, workers have cut away a section of the base, and are in the process of marking other sections that will be cut away. What this does is weaken the structure, which will make it easier  to topple the tower. Also notice that there is a steel cable attached to the top of the tower. The other end of the cable is attached to a tractor to the right of the area pictured.
Hilltop Water Tower in Sioux Falls, SD is prepped for demolition
In the next photo, you can see the ladder used by authorized, and unauthorized :) personnel to climb the tower. You can also see the tractor that will be used to bring the tower down.

Tractor prepares to topple Hilltop Water Tower in Sioux Falls, SD
The collapse begins. The skyline of Sioux Falls is about to be altered, forever.

Hilltop Water Tower being demolished in Sioux Falls, SD
Crash! The Hilltop tower isn't much of a tower anymore.   

Hilltop Water Tower crashes to the ground in Sioux Falls, SD
Here you can see the concrete slab the tower rested on, along with the underside of the tower's base.

Hilltop Water Tower after it is toppled in Sioux Falls, SD
Here the twisted metal that was once the Hilltop tower, is flattened under the weight of the tractor. Goodbye Hilltop tower, hello scrap metal.

Twisted metal that was once the Hilltop Water Tower in Sioux Falls, SD

This last photo is an aerial view of the Hilltop area in 1960. On the right side in the middle of the picture is the Hilltop Tower. Also included in the picture is Cleveland Elementary school, Saint Lambert's church, and towards the top is the East Park outdoor drive in theater. The house I grew up in wouldn't be built for another couple years after this photo was taken.

Aerial view of the Hilltop neighborhood of Sioux Falls in 1960