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Water fountains are a part of the urban development of Kansas City from its early planning stages. The oldest fountain in Kansas City is known as the Women’s Leadership Fountain, once called the 9th Street fountain, was dedicated in 1899. Many more fountains would follow throughout the city. 

George Kessler designed the 9th Street Fountain. He was responsible playing major roles in the landscape development of Kansas City.  Many of the parks and recreational areas in Kansas City were a result of Kessler. The 9th Street Fountain was built to be an entry feature to Paseo Boulevard, which was just built. 

The 9th Street fountain was modest in design compared to more recent water features. Costing only $4115, it also cost much less than other fountains. It features a limestone basin cut in an oval, a water jet shoots a spray of water in the center of the fountain upwards. It sits on a raised sidewalk with a flower garden and gas lights adjacent to it. 

In the 1940’s the 9th Street Fountain stopped working, and was not repaired until 1970. Unfortunately these repairs did not last, and it stopped working again after a few years. In 1990, it was fully renovated at $125,000. The Central Exchange led the renovation of the fountain, a Women’s Leadership Group. The fountain name was then changed to the Women’s Leadership fountain, with the names of 12 prominent women leaders inscribed on the fountain. 

Unfortunately, the fountain has again fallen into disarray, the plumbing is not working, and the 107 year old construction is falling apart. The Central Exchange, along with others, are making efforts to raise 1.3 million dollars to perform a complete renovation of the fountain, as well as the Paseo Boulevard. 

The efforts to renovate the fountain will include modern replications of the original gas lights surrounding the fountain, as well as reflect a more contemporary style, while still retaining the original design of the fountain.

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