Ypsilanti Water Tower – Ypsilanti, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

Ypsilanti Water Tower

Ypsilanti, Michigan

Lovingly nick-named the "Brick Dick" this municipal tower was winner of the World's Most Phallic Building Contest. 


Dominating the city’s landscape, Ypsilanti, Michigan’s centrally located water tower was actually named “the most phallic building in the world” by a magazine and the locals would seem to agree.

The water tower was designed by architect William R. Coats and built in 1889 in the “Queen Anne” architectural style popular during the era. Superstitious construction workers on the project built four crosses into the actual brickwork of the structure which can still be found by eagle-eyed visitors. Then in front of the water tower, there is a bust of Demetrios Ypsilantis, hero of the Greek War of Independence and namesake of the city of Ypsilanti, which was founded in 1825 during the war in Greece.

However all of this historical flare has been nearly forgotten in the giggling furor over the building’s phallic shape. Affectionately known to locals as the “Brick Dick,” the water tower actually won a contest run by Cabinet Magazine identifying the structure as the “World’s Most Phallic Building.” There is even a tongue-in-cheek local legend that says the tower will fall down should a virgin graduate from the local university.  

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