Climb up Roxbury’s Fort Hill on a spring day, and a sweeping view of all of Boston unfurls beneath you. Or at least it will soon — when the city allows visitors to the top of the hill’s whimsical, 19th-century brick tower that has been locked to the outside world for too long.
The Cochituate Standpipe, as the Gothic-style structure is known, was originally designed to hold water. But with its unusually ornate architecture, it served a dual purpose. The 1869 tower opened at a turning point in the city’s history, as the availability of new public water and sewer systems lured surrounding towns into joining Boston. The tower was both a reward of sorts to Roxbury residents, who had voted to join Boston the previous year, and an enticing beacon to voters in Dorchester, West Roxbury, Brighton, and Charlestown as they weighed whether to become part of the growing metropolis.