Minneapolis' iconic Witch's Hat moves closer to reopening

The Prospect Park Water Tower, better known as the Witch's Hat, has been off-limits to the public since 2019. But there's new hope and a plan for its reopening.

The 110-year-old tower, a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, offers spectacular views of downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul from its vantage point atop the highest natural hill in the city.

"They get up the top, and they look, and they get a smile on their face like this. Every one of them. Everybody. That's fun watching," says Phil Anderson from Friends of Tower Hill Park.

Legend has it that Bob Dylan wrote "All Along the Watchtower" there in the 1960s. The tower last saw about 8,000 visitors during the two-day 2019 Open Doors Minneapolis event. However, one of the 117 steps gave way, prompting its closure. Two locks and a small amount of graffiti now meet those who venture up the hill to its entrance.

"This is a symbol of the neighborhood. I mean, it is as simple as that," explains Phil Anderson. Friends of Tower Hill Park have been advocating for the tower's refurbishment.

Recently, the city received estimates for three options:

  • $50,000 to keep it standing
  • $350,000 to make it safe for special events
  • $1.3 million for extensive renovations to accommodate regular visitors

"The goal has always been how do we reopen it? How do we make sure the structure is safe for, you know, multiple opening days, you know, throughout the week," explained Ward 2 Council Member Robin Wonsley.

Wonsley says she would rather see the tower open more often, but her office is examining the costs of maintenance and security. Neighbors say there will be no shortage of people offering free labor.

"If they get the funds to open it up, I'm sure we can get the volunteers," said Anderson.

City staff plans to solidify an agreement with the neighborhood group on shared responsibilities within the coming weeks. Though the timeline for repairs is not yet set, the future looks bright—especially from the top of the tower.