4. The Best Source on It Is a Student Paper
Although construction on the Water Tower did not begin until the summer of 1869, its design was completed by the spring of 1868.
We know this thanks to a thesis written at that time by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student L.L. Buck. It provides dimensions that are consistent with those in Dearborn’s early 1870s plans and its narrative descriptions and calculations are much more detailed than those in news articles or official reports. Who said schoolwork isn’t important?
Among other things, the paper tells us that in the Tower’s interior there “will be a brick lining 8 inches thick and with an air space, between it and the stones of the wall, of 4 inches” and the stairs “are to be of iron, cast treads and wrought frame work in each story to wind from one side around to the opposite side, or occupying 8 sides, the landing on each floor to be vertically over that of the preceding.”
Incidentally, the student, whose full name was Leffert Lefferts Buck, went on to an accomplished career including serving as Chief Engineer on the Williamsburg Bridge.