Quirky Attraction: The Leaning Tower of Niles

leaning tower niles chicago

The Leaning Tower of Niles
Location: Niles, Illinois (6300 W. Touhy Ave.)
When to visit: Anytime during daylight hours
Cost: Free
Time needed to enjoy: 10-15 minutes
Website: Wikipedia (unofficial)

If you don’t want to go all the way to Italy to create your very own “I’m holding up the Leaning Tower” photo, you can cheat by heading to Niles, Illinois (just outside Chicago) for a visit to the Leaning Tower of Niles. It’s a half-scale replica of the famous tower from Pisa, which has been standing since the year 1372.

leaning tower niles

leaning tower niles how tall

The Niles version was built in 1934, with the work commissioned by businessman Robert Ilg. The 94-foot-tall structure was made from concrete, steel and stone. The Chicago version isn’t in a setting quite as picturesque as the Pisa tower – it sits next to a YMCA, and cars pass by all the time on the road in front of it.

touhy tower chicago pisa

If you’re interested in coming, do it soon. A 2014 study revealed that the structure is in need of $600k in repairs, and since this tower isn’t nearly as popular as the one in Pisa, it’s hard to imagine local government shelling out that kind of money on what is essentially a novelty attraction.

niles tower


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About the Author

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based journalist and blogger who seeks out offbeat attractions and awesome destinations around the world. He has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Connect Magazine, Matador Travel, and the Washington Post.

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