Buckingham Fountain is a Chicago landmark in Grant Park which was dedicated in 1927.
The fountain is considered to be Chicago's front door, since it resides in Grant Park, the city's front yard. The fountain, located at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway, was designed with sculptures by Jacques Lambert. It was donated to the city by Kate Buckingham in memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham. The fountain itself represents Lake Michigan, while each sea horse symbolizes a state bordering the lake. The statues were created by the French sculptor Marcel F. Loyau. The design of the fountain was based on the Bassin de Latome and modeled after Latona Fountain at Versailles. The fountain used to be known as 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 on the fountain. Buckingham Fountain was dedicated on August 26, 1927. Many tourists visit each year.
The fountain runs from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day from mid-April to mid-October. During a water display that runs for 20 minutes every hour on the hour, the center jet shoots up vertically to 150 feet (46 m). At dusk, a light and music show coincides with the water display. The last show of the night begins at 10:00 p.m. Each display last for 20 minutes.
The fountain contains 1,500,000 U.S. gallons (5,700,000 L) of water. During a display, more than 14,000 U.S. gallons per minute (0.88 m3/s) are pushed through its 193 jets.
The fountain's pumps are controlled by a Honeywell computer which was previously located in Atlanta, Georgia until the 1994 renovation.
In 1994, the fountain received a $2.8 million restoration due to Chicago's harsh winter months.
Currently, Buckingham Fountain is undergoing extensive renovations which started Labor Day, 2008. This three phase project will modernize the fountain.
Phase I was dedicated April 3, 2009. This phase included permeable pavers laid down surrounding the fountain. This replaced the former crushed stones that were used since the fountain was originally constructed. The pavers make a safer and smoother surface. This new surface is ADA accessible.
Phase II will begin in the winter of 2009. This phase will include the demolition of the fountain table, installation of extensive underdrainage system, new landscaping, site lighting, signs, site furnishings, sewer system, selective demolition within or adjacent to the fountain's outer basin, repairs of some existing cast-in-place concrete elements and installation of new cast-in-place elements.
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