The Pride of the Windy City: The Buckingham Fountain

The Buckinham Garden Fountain is one of the many attractions that are usually connected with the wonderful city of Chicago. It is situated in Grant Park which can be discovered right at the middle of down-town Chicago. Since the Garden Fountain is encircled by a traditionally preserved English Garden, it is no surprise why Grant Park is also regarded as the city’s “front porch.”

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Imposing at twenty-three feet in the air, the Buckinham Garden Fountain is no question one of the biggest Garden Fountains in the world. It is fashioned with three sink layers which are encompassed by 4 pairs of metallic-made seahorses. The Garden Fountain is believed to represent Lake Michigan while the 4 pairs of seahorses signify the four american states that adjoin the lake: Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin.

The financing for the building and construction of the Buckinham Garden Fountain was made feasible in 1926 by Katy Buckinham who wished to have a Garden Fountain built in the honour and remembrance of her sibling Clarence Buckinham. After devoting much of her life as a worldwide traveler, Kate Buckinham learned to appreciate the sophisticated public Garden Fountains she observed in her travels, and wished to bring a part of her travels to the United States. She had in particular admired the Bassil de Latone which is found at the Versailles Mansion just outside Paris, France. This led her to contract Ed Bennett to construct a similar Garden Fountain.

Very similar to the features encountered in Grant Park, Bennett championed clean water and parks to be developed all over the U.S. Throughout his lifetime, Bennett chased other creative undertakings such as the Michigan Avenue Bridge and city projects for Ottawa, New York, Oregon, Portland and Kansas City.

The other name worthy of acknowledgment is Marcel F. Luyau who was responsible for producing the metallic seahorse statues that decorate the Garden Fountain. Luyau’s contribution to the Garden Fountain’s sculptural components earned him a prize at the Prix National in the 1926 Paris Salon.

The Garden Fountain is constructed with a triad of pumps that drive 143 jets with the main jet pushing water up to one hundred fifty feet into the sky. Measuring 270 feet in diameter, the middle jet contains 1.5 million gallons of water and pumps up to 14,500 gallons of water each minute.

The Buckinham Garden Fountain, which at this time contains 810 lights, is one of the very first to have a built-in lighting system. In between the months of May and November, the Garden Fountain carries out a large water display every twenty minutes, running between 10:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Light programs begin at 9 p.m. and continue for around sixty minutes. During the cold weather months, the Buckinham Garden Fountain is emptied to avoid damage brought about by freezing water.

Whether you are a Windy City resident or a tourist just dropping by, the Buckinham Garden Fountain is certainly a great addition to Chicago’s chaotic skyline, exhibiting a bit of European appeal in the center of the windy city.