It took me a long time to Google up some history for this photo because I kept seeing "Phoenix Shot Tower" in the search results and I assumed that that was a different building called the Shot Tower, in Phoenix. Not like I haven't spent years of my life in that particular city and know for pretty certain that there is not a famous building in Phoenix called the Shot Tower. ::sigh:: It's early.

The Shot Tower was a lead shot manufacturing facility in operation from 1828 to 1892. Molten lead was dropped from a platform at the top of the tower through a sieve-like device and into a vat of cold water. When hardened, dried and polished, the shot was sorted into 25-pound bags, producing a total of 1,000,000 bags of shot a year--a number that could be doubled if necessary.

Known originally as the Phoenix Shot, then the Merchants' Shot Tower and now the old Baltimore Shot Tower, the red brick tower was erected in 1828. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, laid its cornerstone. Over 234 feet high, the Shot Tower was the tallest structure in the United States until the Washington Monument in Washington, DC was completed after the Civil War. This type of building was rare even during the 19th century and today only eleven shot towers remain in existence. Of these four, the Shot Tower is the most outstanding example. This National Historic Landmark is also an excellent example of the simple elegance that can be achieved in the design of industrial architecture.


I love driving by this tower because the bricks are so well-laid that if you stare at it long enough, they mess with your eyes and create optical illusions. The horizontal lines start to move and oval shapes appear. (click on the picture to embiggen and you can see it too - or is that just me?) Of course when you do that from a car headed north on I83, it's not the smartest use of your attention. I'm just sayin'.