Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Sanborn Map Company Water Tower in North Pelham

On a hill behind the Sanborn Map Company building near the end of Fourth Avenue and its intersection with Seventh Street adjacent to Chester Park is a large, circular water tower resting on iron supports.  Not to be confused with the famed Chester Park water tower erected in 1891 to provide reliable water service to Chester Park residents, the Sanborn Map Company water tower was built for a specific purpose:  to supply water to the map company's water sprinkler fire extinguishing system.

The Sanborn Map water tower is the second one built on the site.  At about the time the original Sanborn Map Company complex was built in North Pelham beginning in 1906, a smaller water tower was constructed near the same spot.  The original water tank was a 10,000 gallon tank to service the sprinkler fire extinguishing system of the plant.  

At the time, the plant had not only its own water system to service its sprinkler system, but also its own coal fire electricity-generating system to provide electrical power for the plant.  The plant, in effect, was essentially a self-contained community devoted to the creation and printing of the Sanborn insurance maps.  

I have written about the Sanborn Map Company and its facility on numerous occasions.  For two examples, see:

Mon., Nov. 28, 2005:  The Historic Sanborn Map Building In The Village of Pelham.

Bell, Blake A., The Sanborn Map Company and its Pelham Headquarters, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XV, Issue 14, Apr. 7, 2006, p. 10, col. 1.

As the Sanborn Map business grew, so did its complex.  By 1927, the original water tower was too small to serve the needs of the complex.  In early march of that year, preparations were made to build a larger 50,000 gallon tank to provide water for the sprinkler fire extinguishing system of the complex.  The tank was built that spring standing atop a 65-foot high iron trestle.  It remains standing today.

Detail from 1929 Map Showing Location of New Sanborn Map
Company Water Tower Shortly After It Was Built.  Source:  G. M.
in Four Volumes, Vol. 1, p. 11 (Philadelphia, PA:  G. M. Hopkins
Co., 1929).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Google Maps Satellite Image With Arrow Showing Location
of Sanborn Map Company Water Tower Today.  NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

The Sanborn Map Company water tower should not be confused with the famed Chester Park water tower built in 1891 to provide water service to the homes in the then-new Chester Park residential development.  The Chester Park water tower was only a few hundred yards away from the Sanborn Map Company water tower at the rear of the Chester Park Green.  A rare image of that water tower at about the time it was built appears immediately below.  

Caption: "View of Water Tower Taken from Public Green"
Source: Water and Mildew Damaged Photograph as Donated
To The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

*          *          *          *          *

Below is a brief newspaper reference to preparations for construction of the new 50,000 water tank at the Sanborn Map Company complex in 1927.  It is followed by a citation and link to its source.  


Preparations are being made at the plant of the Sanborn Map Company in North Pelham for the erection of a new 50,000 gallon water tank to replace the 10,000 gallon tank now in use.  The tank is used to supply the sprinkler fire extinguishing system of the Plant.  It will be erected on an iron trestle sixty-five feet above the ground.  The small tank in use at the present time will be dismantled."

Source:  SANBORN COMPANY TO ERECT WATER TOWER, The Pelham Sun, Mar. 4, 1927, p. 4, col. 5.

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