Buckingham Fountain in Chicago
Buckingham Fountain is a Chicago landmark in the center of Grant Park. Dedicated in 1927, it is one of the largest fountains in the world. Built in a rococo wedding cake style and inspired by the Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles, it is meant to allegorically represent Lake Michigan. It operates from April to October, with regular water shows and evening color-light shows. During the winter, the fountain is decorated with festival lights.
The fountain is considered Chicago's front door, since it resides in Grant Park, the city's front yard near the intersection of Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway. The fountain itself represents Lake Michigan, with each sea horse symbolizing the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, that border the lake. The fountain was designed by beaux arts architect Edward H. Bennett. The statues were created by the French sculptor Marcel F. Loyau. The design of the fountain was inspired by the Bassin de Latome and modeled after Latona Fountain at Versailles.
The fountain was donated to the city by Kate Buckingham in memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham and was constructed at a cost of $750,000. The fountain's official name is the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain. Kate Buckingham also established the Buckingham Fountain Endowment Fund with an initial investment of $300,000 to pay for maintenance. Buckingham Fountain was dedicated on August 26, 1927.
Many tourists and Chicagoans visit the fountain each year. The fountain operates daily 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. from mid-April through mid-October. Water shows occur every hour on-the-hour and last 20- minutes. During shows, the center jet shoots up vertically to 150 ft and after dusk, shows are choreographed with lights and music. The last show begins at 10:00 p.m. nightly.
The latest renovation project on Buckingham Fountain began in September, 2008. This three-phase project will modernize aging internal systems in the fountain and restore deteriorated features. Funding is a combination from the Buckingham endowment, city and park district funds and a grant from the Lollapalooza music festival which is held annually near the fountain.
Phase III updates have not been scheduled until Phase II projects are completed. This phase will include the restoration of Buckingham Fountain and fountain table, the construction of a new equipment room with selective demolition, structural construction and repair, masonry restoration and repair, mechanical and electrical work, bronze restoration and repair and installation of site improvements and amenities.
In popular culture
Buckingham Fountain was the eastern terminus of U.S. Route 66.
The Fountain was also prominently featured in the title sequence to the television show Married...with Children.
- History of fountains in the United States
- Chicago Landmarks: Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain and Garden
- Chicago Park District: Buckingham Fountain
- Restore Buckingham Fountain