Andersonville’s Iconic Swedish Flag Water Tank To Fly Again

CHICAGO (CBS) — A historic symbol was making a comeback Tuesday morning in the Andersonville neighborhood, as crews began work to replace the Swedish flag water tank on top of the Swedish American Museum.

You know you’re in Andersonville when you see the blue tank with the bright yellow cross. It has been missing for more than three years, but a new one has been built, and cranes were set to lift it to the roof of the museum on Tuesday.

Unlike the old tank, which was made of wood, the new 27,000-pound tank is a steel structure encased in fiberglass.

It no longer functions as a water basin or to pressurize a water supply system The museum has new technology for that. Instead, the new tank serves as a landmark for the Andersonville neighborhood.

The original water tower was built nearly 90 years ago, but was taken down in March 2014, after it was damaged beyond repair due to the harsh winter. It had begun leaking into the museum.

Immediately after the old water tank was removed, people in Andersonville demanded a new one, and donations began to roll in.

The neighborhood was home to a large Swedish immigrant community when the original water tank was built. While the population of Andersonville has changed a great deal, the water tank remained a symbol of the neighborhood’s roots.

“You see actually a lot of different stickers, and emblems, and magnets with that water tower on it, and that big yellow cross, and it’s just kind of a symbol of Andersonville. So it’s kind of that beacon that reminds us of where we are,” Andersonville resident Jim Yost said.

The museum raised $165,000 to replace the original water tank, and officials said they expect more donations to cover the balance of the $200,000 cost to build and install the new tank.

“It’s who we are. Obviously not as Swedish today as it was, but this is still our neighborhood, and everybody associates that with, ‘I’m home. I’m back to where I should be,’ and it’s something, it’s a little bit of a beacon, a statue for our own neighborhood. We also feel like it’s part of Chicago neighborhoods and Chicago history,” museum executive director Karen Abercrombie said.

Two large cranes and dozens of construction workers were making preparations to lift the new water tank to the museum’s roof on Tuesday. The process was expected to take a couple hours.

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