Up on the Roof

If, like most New Yorkers, you have a fondness for water towers, you’ll want to check out “Skyline Sentinels,” an exhibit of photographs by Jeremy G. Landau that opens Wednesday at Warburg Realty. It’s a preview of his book, Water Towers of New York. I had two questions for Landau (besides whether I could run his photos of downtown water towers):

I saw a New Mexico address on your website. Are you not in New York? I am originally from the New York area although I’ve lived out west for many years. I’ve lived part-time in New York for the last five years, mainly for the purposes of working on this ongoing project.

Why water towers? Many years ago an artist mentor, New York painter Robert Miles Parker, encouraged me to “look up.” I mention this in passing in the book because as a child in New York in the 1950s I was always taught to look down and not make contact with people or attract attention. Pretty weird, eh?

Anyway, about 10 years ago with Miles’ encouragement I started making photographs of the water towers. Those were fairly ordinary. In 2007, with a small stipend, I returned to the concept with the idea that these icons would be more interesting at eye-level or above. The challenges were access in a post-9/11 city as well as how this desert panoramic artist would “visualize” it. I often found myself sitting on rooftops chatting with the towers! The results were good and got better through hundreds of images and dozens of different sites. I kept to Manhattan for focus and fell in love with New York all over again. I went out with crew from Issek Brothers (tank builders) a few times and got unique and often difficult access to high rises and obscured rooftops.

By this time I was hooked and began doing research on the history and impact of the water towers; how they came to New York as such a unique and essential resource, and their impact on the cultural anthropology on the city, as well. The resources made available to me both in the public and private sector was rewarding and led to the accompanying essays in the exhibition book which has now grown to a coffee table art book, as well.

“Skyline Sentinels” will be at Warburg Realty (100 Hudson, at Franklin; 212-380-2401) from April 18 to June 29.



  1. Very nice….I am just out of hospital..Beth Israel, and think I was looking at some of your building choices from my window…Maybe?

  2. The title is perfect! I get the feeling that they are ever present and watching over me as I pirouette along the avenues. What better symbol than what brings us life giving water; the towers of H2O.