The Leaning Tower of Niles is about a half-size replica of its sister structure: the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy. It combines roadside attraction with historic Italia…and that, my silly American friends, is worth a drive from anywhere (maybe even Rome, Illinois or Florence, Illinois…).
This Leaning Tower of Pisa replica was constructed in 1934 by industrialist Robert Ilg as part of a recreation park for employees of the Ilg Hot Air Electric Ventilating Company of Chicago. Some say it was to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Pisa version, others say it held water for swimming pools.
Through the years, the Niles Leaning Tower has been renovated and it now boasts four fountains and a 20-foot pool. It’s a great stop for your next road trip if you want to get a piece of Italy in suburban Chicago, want to take a goofy tourist photo of yourself holding it up, or want to take in an open-air summer music concert underneath the tower.
(Want another taste of Italy in America? Check out the Venetian Gondola Rides in Las Vegas.)
Photos of the Leaning Tower of Niles in 2007:
I first saw the replica leaning tower of Pisa in Chicago on November 25, 2007 on a Chicagoland road trip. The Illinois roadside attraction was decked out for Christmas with red and green garlands and bows.
Photos of the Leaning Tower of Niles in 2008:
I visited the Chicago leaning tower again on November 29, 2008 on my way back from Woodstock, Illinois: the town where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed.
Photos of the Leaning Tower of Niles in 2010:
I again stopped by the Leaning Tower of Pisa Niles roadside attraction on April 11, 2010, on a mini road trip that also included stops at the Gemini Giant muffler man and the agricultural crash monument.
So, if you can’t make it to Italy any time soon, swing by Niles, Illinois, for a taste of Italia. Or at least a replica.
The Leaning Tower of Niles
Where in the United States is the Leaning Tower of Niles?
6300 W. Touhy Avenue, Niles, IL
Cost: Free to see.
Hours: Always visible.