I had parked illegally in downtown Fresno on Memorial Day, but I hoped a 10-minute stop to hunt urban beauty with my camera would be safe enough. I thought I was just stopping a moment while on my way to the highway, but I would spend my entire afternoon on that spontaneous safari.
I captured the light of many moments outside the Legion of Valor Museum before turning back to my tiny Smart car. But an older bearded man called after me until he had my attention. He left behind his shelter, his belongings, and companion to approach.
“I see people stop and take pictures of that” — he pointed at the 109-foot Old Fresno Water Tower — “all the time. I’ve never been able to figure it out. Why do they do that?” he asked, more or less.
I looked up at the brown-capped tower of white before me with its graceful geometry and decor. A Chicago architect designed the American Romanesque brick tower in 1891, and it had served the city unceasingly until 1963...