The Buckingham Fountain Chicago
This Chicago landmark is located in the center of Grant Park, and is one of the largest fountains in the world. It was dedicated in 1927, influenced by the Latona Fountain at the Versailles Palace in France. The style is a rococo wedding cake, and was made to represent Lake Michigan, allegorically. The fountain is open from April to October, and features exciting light shows in the evenings, as well as water shows. The fountain is decorative with festive lighting during the winter holiday season.
The history of the fountain is meant to represent Lake Michigan, with each of the sea horses representing Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana, all the states which border the lake. Edward Bennet, a beaux arts architect, was the creator of the large outdoor fountain. The statues were created bb Marcel F. Loyau, a French sculptor. The cost of the fountain was $750,000, and was donated by Kate Buckingham in honor of her brother Clarence Buckingham. There was also a maintenance fund established with $300,000 initially invested.
This fountain is a popular tourist destination, for tourists and people who live in Chicago as well. The fountain runs daily, for the public, from 8:00am to 11:00pm from mid-April to mid-October. The water shows occur each hour, on the hour, lasting for about twenty minutes. The main attraction of the show is a central middle jet shooting water 150 feet straight up into the air. Evening shows are choreographed with lights and music.
The construction of the fountain is from Georgia pink marble. There is 1,500,000 gallons of water in this fountain. When the fountain is in the midst of a water show there are over 14,000 gallons of water moving each minute through the 193 jets. The pool of the basin is 280 feet in diameter. The pumps of the fountains are controlled by Honeywell Computer. This computer was once located in Atlanta Georgia, but a 1994 renovation brought it to Chicago. The fountain was restored in 1994 receiving a 2.5 million dollar facelift to the three smaller basins that had developed leaks as a result of the harsh winter climate.
In 2008 another renovation took place, a three part project that would modernize the internal systems and restore the deterioration. Phase one began in in 2009, and added permeable pavers surround the fountain. This was used to replace the crushed stone. This was an important change because it made the area safer to walk and allowed the fountain to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Phase Two began in the winter of 2009, with the demolition of the fountain table, installing a new under drainage system, a sewer system, lighting, new landscaping, and repairs to set existing concrete pieces, as well as the installation of new cast-in0place features. Unfortunately this phase is still in progress as funding has work out, and phase three is not scheduled to begin until the completion of phase two. This phase will repair the fountain table, create an equipment room and complete repairs on deteriorated features, as well as improve the amenities of the actual site.
When these improvements are completed, the fountain will be restored to its original beauty with many added improvements. This fountain is an important piece of heritage, often considered the front door of Chicago.