City Fountains I Have Loved
My love of city fountains begins with my formative years. I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles where my father was a news photographer and intimately knew the nooks and crannies of the city. Family drives all over the state and especially throughout greater L.A. were always amazing; there was so much to see. My sisters, brother and I were all given our own park, freeway, tree, public garden and fountain and I always thought my fountain was THE BEST. What a coincidence that when I met Brent I soon discovered my fountain was also HIS fountain. At the corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and Riverside Drive, near Griffith Park, is MY fountain, the William J. Mulholland Memorial Fountain. Each time we drive by the fountain, we both claim it. It’s still my favorite, but the two of us have also found other fountains to love in other US cities.
THE FACTS: The first “decorative” fountain in the US was dedicated in City Hall Park, New York City in 1842. Before that, fountains were primarily used to provide clean drinking water and had few decorative qualities. In the 20th century, fountains weren’t needed for drinking water and became purely ornamental, designed to honor events or individuals. There are now many computer controlled fountains that can even dance and perform music.
SOME FOUNTAINS OF CHOICE:
1. William J. Mulholland Memorial Fountain, Los Angeles CA. William Mulholland was the “father of the Los Angeles Water System.” His greatest contribution was being the engineer of the 233-mile long Los Angeles Aqueduct, completed in 1913. Unfortunately, many L.A. officials, including Mulholland were accused of shady dealings, from using scare tactics to convince Angelenos that the aqueduct was necessary to ensure the survival of the city, to buying up the San Fernando Valley from unsuspecting ranchers. Remember Chinatown? After his death, all of these issues were forgotten and public funds were raised to construct a permanent shrine to Mulholland: The William J. Mulholland Memorial Fountain.
2. The Forsyth Park Fountain, Savannah. GA. The most well known feature of Forsyth Park is its fountain. It was installed in 1858 and selected from a manufacturer’s catalogue, rather than being an individually commissioned artwork. Unlike other monuments in Forsyth Park, such as the Confederate Memorial and the Spanish American War Memorial, the fountain’s purpose is only its beauty. It has been witness to the Civil War, survived vandalism and the forces of weather and through the generous support of the Savannah community, it lives on today.
3. The Fountains at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA. Even if there were no fountains at the former estate of Pierre DuPont, the beauty of the 1100 acre, multi-faceted gardens is worth a long visit. It’s fantastic that Pierre DuPont himself made all the hydraulic calculations for the elaborately controlled, electrically illuminated and fountains known collectively as “The Waterworks,” the first of which began flowing in the mid 1920s.
4. The Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, NY, also called “The Angel of the Waters.” Everyone knows this fountain, it seems like it’s in every movie shot in New York City and Bill Cunningham loves it, especially when it’s frozen. The fountain was designed in 1868 by Emma Stebbens, the first woman to receive a public commission for a major work of art in New York City and was the only statue called for in the original design of the park. Beneath the angel are four cherubs representing Temperance, Purity, Health and Peace.
This is the short version of the Fountain Favorites tour, but the best of the best so far seen in our worldwide review.
Fountains Longwood Gardens via Flickr/Joshua Ludwig
William Mulholland Memorial Fountain-Griffith Park via Flickr/Konrad Summers
Bethesda Fountain via Flickr/V Manninen
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