Prospect Park Water Tower – Minneapolis, Minnesota - Atlas Obscura
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Minneapolis, Minnesota

Prospect Park Water Tower

This iconic water tower and failed bandstand is open for panoramic views once a year. 

The Prospect Park Water Tower sits at the highest point in Minneapolis. The structure is rumored to be the inspiration for Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” as - rising above the trees as it does - the tower would have been clearly visible from the singer’s home in Dinkytown.

Nicknamed the “Witch’s Hat Tower” or “Witch’s Tower” thanks to its distinctive green-shingled, pointed roof, the 110-foot tower was designed by Norwegian engineer Frederick William Cappelen and completed in 1914. In its early days, the Witch’s Hat had a caretaker, known to local children as “The Wizard.”

The tower has a capacity of 150,000 gallons and was operational as a water tank until 1952. In 1955, it was hit by lightning and scheduled for demolition. A successful appeal for preservation left it as one of the last original water towers still standing in the Twin Cities area.

The observation deck below the hat’s brim was meant as a bandstand, but that notion was quickly abandoned when it became clear just how difficult it was for musicians to haul their instruments up the tower’s narrow spiral staircase. That deck is now closed to the general public, except for on the first Friday after Memorial Day. After climbing the hundred or so stairs, visitors are rewarded for their exertion by a stupendous view of the park and surrounding landscape.

Know Before You Go

The park is right by the intersection of Malcolm Avenue, and University Avenue.