What Is Buckingham Fountain?
In the center of Grant Park, on the eastern edge of Lake Michigan, Buckingham Fountain is a huge rococo wedding cake style structure known colloquially as 'Chicago's front door'. Like NYC's Pulitzer Fountain, it was inspired by a historic French counterpart: the Palace of Versailles' Latona Fountain, which itself was built for a literal king: Louis XV of France.
Buckingham Fountain's huge lower pool is meant to allegorically represent the neighbouring Lake Michigan. Around its edges are four sets of sea horses, each of which stands for one of the lake's four bordering states: Wisconsin. Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.
The fountain operates between May and mid-October (weather permitting) and features spectacular water/light shows every hour from 9am-11pm.
The Origins Of Buckingham Fountain
The fountain was funded by a donation made by Kate S Buckingham and designed by Edward H Bennett. It was dedicated in 1927 to the sound of Lopez and Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance' and an audience of 50,000. Before this however it for a while looked like its location would be occupied by another structure: The Field Museum of Natural History.
For years this idea had been floated by architect Dan Burnham, but businessman Aaron Ward was violently opposed to it. So much so that he fought no less than four State Supreme Court battles to prevent it from happening.
Later, a friend of Ward's proposed a fountain be built there instead. What Ward had objected to about the museum was it would obstruct the view of the lake. This would not be the case with a fountain.
Buckingham agreed to finance it and the rest is history.
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