Leaning Tower of Niles
The Leaning Tower is a perennial stop for travelers in the Chicago area, only 15 minutes northeast of O'Hare International Airport and 10 minutes from the World's First Franchised McDonald's in Des Plaines. The Leaning Tower of Niles is, naturally, a replica of Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is roughly half-sized, 94 feet vs. the authentic's 177 feet, and leans about 7'4" off plum (vs. Pisa's 13 foot tilt). But that hardly matters when you're standing across the street taking a picture. And the savings in overseas airfare and reduced risk of injury is worth considering.
America's Leaning Tower was built in 1934 (600 years after the original) by businessman Bob Ilg, who anchored it in concrete so that its lean would stay consistent. Originally it was a utility tower, made from steel, concrete, and precast stone, designed to hide water filtration tanks. A plaque at its base says it was built to honor the outstanding scientist Galileo Galilei, who dropped various objects from the top of the Pisa tower to prove his theory of gravity.
The plaza around the tower was renovated in the late 1990s, adding a fountain, reflecting pool, and other touches, just in time for a visit from Niles' sister-city -- Pisa, of couse.