Why Was Erie’s Bicentennial Tower Built?

Erie's Bicentennial Tower with Lake Erie in background

The Bicentennial Tower stands tall and proud in Erie, Pennsylvania, attracting visitors from far and wide. But why was this tall structure built in the first place? Was it purely for aesthetics, or did it serve a greater purpose?

In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the history and purpose of the structure and explore the factors that led to its construction and what it represents for the city of Erie. So, whether you’re a curious tourist or a local, join us on a revealing journey to unravel the mystery of why this famous landmark was built.

Exploring the Purpose of the Bicentennial Tower

Situated in a prime location in Dobbins Landing with a panoramic view of Lake Erie, the Bicentennial Tower is a landmark that captures the essence of Erie. Measuring an impressive 187 feet tall, this beautiful landmark is a testament to the city’s rich history and symbolizes Erie’s resilience.

But do you know why the tower was built? In 1995 the construction of the Bicentennial Tower began to celebrate Erie’s anniversary, marking the 200th year since the city was founded. It was constructed to commemorate this momentous occasion and to honor the rich history and significance of the city.

Side view of Erie's Bicentennial Tower at dusk

The masterminds behind the magnificent landmark had a vision that went beyond just a beautiful structure. It all began with a group of dedicated civic leaders from Erie that came together with a shared goal – to commemorate the anniversary of the city of Erie in a grand way.

They believed that a bold and impressive monument would be the perfect way to honor the city’s rich history and the values it stands for. And so, the idea of building a tall structure was born. These individuals were determined to make this dream a reality and worked tirelessly to bring the tower to life.

Keystone Answers Fun Fact: Presque Isle State Park is Pennsylvania’s most visited state park, with over 4.5 million visitors annually.

The construction of the illustrious Bicentennial Tower was no small feat. The process began in 1994 and spanned over two years, during which the architects and engineers faced various challenges to ensure its safety and durability.

The unique design was the brainchild of Weber Murphy Fox, known for creating intricate and awe-inspiring structures in the US. The construction cost 1.6 million in the first phase and 2.1 million in the second. The ribbon-cutting ceremony held on October 19, 1996, was the culmination of the planner’s vision.

The Bicentennial Tower is not just a stunning piece of architecture, but it also serves a practical purpose. As a result, visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of Erie and its picturesque surroundings.

View of Erie from the top of Bicentennial Tower

The observation deck is the main attraction and provides visitors with unobstructed views of Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay, and the city of Erie through its glass-walled platform. The elevator transports visitors effortlessly to the observation deck, which stands at an impressive height of 138 feet above the ground, where they can take in the stunning view. If you don’t want to use the elevator, you can climb the 200+ steps to get there. The tower is topped with a flagpole, and the top of the pole reaches 187 feet.

The unique design is an important aspect of its significance. It features a sleek, modern architecture that is aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound. The shape is reminiscent of a lighthouse, a sailboat, or even a fort, which is an homage to the lake-faring culture and the history of the people of Erie.

Erie, PA and the Bicentennial Tower at dusk

The tower is also adorned with a series of lights that provide a breathtaking view when lit up at night. The design is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the architects who worked diligently to create a magnificent structure that inspires awe and admiration in all who behold it.

A Monument to the Past

As we come to the end of our exploration of the Bicentennial Tower’s origins, we can appreciate the significance of this iconic landmark not just as a symbol of Erie’s 200th anniversary but also as a testament to the city’s resilience and determination.

The vision of the planners has been realized in the form of a lofty structure that not only offers breathtaking views but also serves as a beacon for the community’s hopes and dreams. As Erie continues to grow and develop, we can be sure that the Bicentennial Tower will remain a beloved symbol of the city’s past, present, and future.

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I was born and raised in Pennsylvania; I love to travel, visit new destinations, explore unique locations, and meet great new people. However, sometimes, you don't need to travel far from home to find new adventures, so I decided now was the time to learn more about this great state I call home.