Built in 1899, the West Arlington Water Tower was originally used to supply water to the West Arlington neighborhood in northwest Baltimore just across the city line. The community developed quickly around it with the West Arlington Improvement Company building a new septic system and even a "portable school"—later known by the nickname "The Chicken Coop"—for the scores of families moving into the area in the 1900s and 1910s.
In a 1916 feature on West Arlington, calling it the "Suburb of Many Happy Homes," the Baltimore Sun reflected on the water tower as a local landmark that "should not be overlooked," writing, "It is one of the most beautiful in Maryland and commands a fine view for miles over the country. From its top one can look for miles down the bay and see white-winged vessels drifting in the harbor." Next door stood a "handsome tower house" where local resident, Mrs. J.M. Crowley made and sold "all varieties of baskets and tray."
By the early 1930s, however, the tower had fallen into disuse and the city planned to demolish the structure in 1933. When funding for demolition never arrived the tower simply sat and has remained a landmark ever since.