Watertower by Tom Fruin

For my first Christmas card after moving to NYC I made a woodcut of three water towers representing the three wise men, silhouetted against a snowy sky. Water towers just seemed to epitomize the quirky contrast of the past and present in downtown architecture. They’re prehistoric compared to the sky scrapers and their close relationship to the tenements made me feel like I was part of the struggle, another newcomer making my way in New York City.

At that time, the East Village was exciting and new to me, but still somewhat dangerous. Soho was still rough and bohemian, with an edginess and underground glamour. Maybe it still looks like that to a new newcomer. To me, a lot has changed and I sometimes miss my old city. Seeing an old water tower is like seeing a friendly face.

When I saw “Watertower” by Tom Fruin, I felt like I was home again. It made me very, very happy.

And the stained glass makes my little lapsed-catholic heart sing.


The tower is lit by the sun in the day and lit from within at night. It’s located on the rooftop of 20 Jay Street, and the prime viewing spots are the Brooklyn Bridge Park at Washington Street and Manhattan Bridge bike path.