When I drive through this city and pass this building I occasionally wonder if I should stop the vehicle, get out and give a snappy salute. This building was originally erected in 1889-1890 as part of a Ypsilanti, Michigan water supply project. The designer was one William Coats. It is unfortunately lost to history as to whether Coats was laughing up his sleeve when he submitted the design to the city leaders or whether they were in on the joke as well. I can't imagine that anyone looked at the completed building and didn't immediately crack a grin. At a time when in some circles modesty required women to cover up ankles or for both men and women to wear bathing suits that covered up almost everything, it seems astonishing that this building looks like it does. In any event the building's strong and apparently deliberate resemblance to a certain body part possessed by 1/2 of humanity can't be missed and is still to this day a source of local humor.
There are jokes galore about this building, most of which I won't repeat here. Still, I have heard from some people that touching this building or giving it a hug will immediately cure erectile dysfunction in men or cause women of any age to become spontaneously pregnant. Supposedly if any virgin ever graduates from nearby Eastern Michigan University this building will crumble and fall apart. I know nothing about the sexual habits of EMU students but I do know that the Ypsi Water tower is still standing strong. It has won a contest for the most phallic building in the world. So far nobody has seriously linked this building to "rape culture" or fears of assault. This isn't Wellesley . Maybe 1000 years from now anthropologists will find this building and theorize the existence of some strange fertility cult. Who knows if we go on after we die but if we do I'd like to think that somewhere, in some other space and time, William Coats is still chuckling.