Leaning Tower of Niles: a Little bit of Italy in Illinois

If you’re driving around Niles, Illinois, and you see a likeness of Italy’s most famous leaning tower in the distance—your eyes are not deceiving you. In 1931, successful businessman Robert Ilg proposed that a replica of Italy’s most celebrated tower was an artful way to store water for a series of sizable pools. Robert Ilg hoped that the area surrounding his replica of Pisa’s famous tower would inspire members of the Niles community to rest, relax, and reflect on ways to better the world around them.

Over time, Niles slightly off-center tower acquired 5 bells—a few of which were constructed in Italy. The Niles bell tower plays a collection of songs 4 times a day, including timeless, much beloved tunes such as “My Favorite Things.” There is even a signature song that was composed in honor of Pisa’s slightly shorter little cousin.

In the mid-20th century, Niles most iconic piece of architecture fell into marked disrepair. A dedicated collection of community organizations swooped in and secured funds for a restoration. Recently Pisa’s petit cousin received permanent funding and protection by being placed on a list of historic buildings.

Leaning Tower of Niles IL

Photo by Jo Bet/Flickr

Visitors are not currently able to ascend to the top of city’s most beloved tower, but the city of Niles hopes that the tower will be open for tours very soon. The tower features a plaza with a fountain and a reflection pool, so that travelers may linger and daydream about being in Italy. Niles and Pisa have been sister cities since 1991.

Since 1990, the city of Niles has hosted a summer concert series so that visitors may bask in the beauty of a replica of one of the world’s most celebrated towers while they listen to music. If you can’t make it to Pisa, Niles is a pretty good substitute.

6300 Touhy Avenue
Niles, Illinois, 60714
United States

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