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The Centennial Plaza and Fountain is an exciting water feature located on the north side of the Chicago River before it connects to Lake Michigan. It was named the Centennial Fountain because it was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, which are best known for its reversal of the Chicago River in 1900. It was named the “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium” from the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

The fountain creates a water arc that travels across the Chicago River every hour from 10 am to 2pm, and then from 5pm to midnight each day. The shows last for about 10 minutes. Not only is the arc a beautiful water sculpture but it will create an entertaining feature for the viewers as they watch the boats try to miss the arc or get soaked in the process. There is a running joke that the Wendella Boat Community should issue rain jackets just like they do at Niagara Falls. The fountain also creates beautiful rainbows if it catches the sun correctly, and magical mists from the water sprays. 

The Fountain was designed by the Lohan Associates, a group of architects. They designed the arc which shoots 70 feet into the air and roughly 200 feet across the river. The base and water cannon is located at the base of McClurg Court, south of the North Pier Terminal building. This was a 3.5 million dollar project. The water show is computerized, with the water strength controlled to account for the wind. The site around the fountain and arch features walking paths, garden benches, lights, sculptures, and beautiful landscaping. The area is very attractive, and was developed to be a park-like setting. 

The fountain was opened and dedicated on June 30th, 1989, with a nervous Water Reclamation Board awaiting to see what the water arch would do. They were quire relieved when the water shot perfectly from the cannon, creating a neat arch that fell across the river, just short of the south bank. The board actual changed the evening shows from 6pm to 5pm at this time, so the evening rush hour traffic would be able to view the show. The fountain is only a few feet deep at its base, making it safe. The fountain spills about 7500 gallons of water a minute, and the water cannon will spurt 2000 gallons of water a minute. The water source is the river, which also helps to aerate the river, making it a benefit to the fish who call the channel home. 

The fountain and water arch, along with the beautifully landscaped setting, is a wonderful place to visit. It is perfect for a warm summer evening. The fountain is also a short walk from the new bars and restaurants that are located in the refurbished North Pier Terminal building. The area has definitely been built up over the years, making it a great place to embrace for both the community as well as for tourists!