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When tourists visit Chicago, or when natives picnic or take nighttime strolls, the Buckingham Memorial Fountain is a popular destination that represents the magnificence and grandeur of the city. Romantic couples, excited children, and even wedding parties view water shooting from the mouths of sea horses, colored lights that change hue throughout the evening, and huge fountains that reach into the night sky to signal the time. Buckingham Memorial Fountain is truly a Chicago landmark.
In Memory of Clarence Buckingham
Facts about the Buckingham Fountain include:
- Located in Grant Park at the foot of Congress Parkway
- The Buckingham Memorial Fountain was the "world's largest decorative fountain at the time of its dedication". Even today it is still the world's largest lighted fountain.
- The fountain was a dedicated memorial from a sister to her beloved brother in 1927. "Kate Sturges Buckingham (1858-1937) presented the fountain to the city in memory of her brother Clarence (1854-1913), who had been a trustee and benefactor of the Art Institute".
- At the time, the fountain had cost Ms. Buckingham, a philanthropist in Chicago, $750,000 to have built, plus she gifted $300,000 to the city endowment for maintenance and operating costs.
- Ms. Buckingham unveiled the fountain "on the evening of August 26, 1927. John Philip Sousa led a band in the performance of his 'Stars and Stripes Forever'".
Buckingham Design and Architecture
The Buckingham Memorial Fountain is renowned for its design and immensity. The style of the work was patterned after European design for its ornate creativity. "The fountain is modeled after the Latona Fountain in Versailles, France". Ms. Buckingham herself selected this specific European fountain since she "had been impressed by European monuments and wanted Chicago to have something comparable". Ms. Buckingham chose architects to design the piece, but her input was critical. She envisioned the sea horses that now appear at each corner of the fountain.