NILES, Ill. (CBS) — The famous Leaning Tower of Niles is now officially a part of national history.
The U.S. Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that the tower – – which overlooks Touhy Avenue on a stretch where the road separates Niles from Chicago’s Edgebrook neighborhood – has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.READ MORE: Woman Dead, Child Among 3 Injured After House Fire In Clearing
The tower was completed in 1934. It is a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Niles tower has a built-in tilt of about 7 feet, but is not in danger of falling because it has a foundation anchored in solid concrete, unlike the sands and soft clay of Italy.
The tower was commissioned by businessman Robert Ilg to conceal a water tower for a recreation park for employees of his Ilg Hot Air Electric Ventilating Company of Chicago.
In 1960, Ilg’s descendants handed over part of the park for construction of the Leaning Tower YMCA, at 6300 W. Touhy Ave. in Niles. Part of the deal was that the YMCA would spend a minimum of $500 per year to keep up the tower and surrounding area until 2059, according to the Village of Niles.READ MORE: Biden Says Omicron Variant Is ‘Cause For Concern, Not A Cause For Panic’
The Village of Niles established a sister pact with Pisa, Italy in 1991, with a new fountain plaza surrounding it in 1997, according to the village.
But by 2013, the tower was deteriorating – with some suggesting it was in such poor shape that it should be torn down.
The Village of Niles approved the purchase the tower from the YMCA for $10 in 2015 and a new $1 million restoration effort began.
In December, the bells at the Leaning Tower were reinstalled. Structural improvements are also under way so people can once again climb the tower to the top, the village said.MORE NEWS: Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris Won't Run For Re-Election
The Village of Niles plans a new grand opening ceremony for the tower for the spring of this year.