Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain
The Buckingham Fountain in Chicago


One of the largest and most recognized fountains in America is located in Chicago. It is called the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain, or the Buckingham Fountain for short. What makes this fountain stand out from the rest? Why is it so special? Read on to find out!


The fountain is very large, as it rises more than 7 meters (23 feet) into the air. Its very large appearance is what makes it so well-known to tourists. There are three basins that the water flows into. Within the basins, there are four pairs of bronze seahorses. The seahorse pairs are representative of each of the four states that surround Lake Michigan, while the large basin represents the actual lake. 

Where is it located?

This particular fountain can be found in the very center of Grant Park. The park is located at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway in Chicago. It is in operation from early April until approximately mid-October, depending on the weather. From 8am until 11pm, the fountain is on and functioning.

Water display

The Buckingham Fountain attracts visitors to the park by its fascinating water display. Every hour, the water show will last for 20 minutes. Small sprays of water turn into higher and higher jet streams. The central jet will spray water up to 46 meters high. After dusk, the fountain becomes even more interesting. Colorful lights and music are added to the water show. For many years, the water flow was operated manually by engineers with alternating shifts. 1980 was the first year that the water became automated.   

Significance of the name

The funds to create the fountain were donated by Kate Buckingham in honor of her brother, Clarence. She was an art patron and philanthropist who was well-known in Chicago. Kate and Clarence were both lovers of art. They would collect pieces of art, and donate money towards preserving artifacts. In the mid-1920s, Kate was the last remaining member of the Buckingham family. She decided to commemorate her brother’s love for art by initiating a fountain to be built in his name.     

Who built the fountain?

The designer of the fountain was a man named Edward H. Bennett. He had a good reputation in the art of design and sculptures. He had worked alongside others to create the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Edward worked alongside a French sculptor called Marcel Loyau and an engineer named Jacques H. Lambert on the Buckingham Fountain. To make the figures look more realistic, Marcel spent a great deal of time studying a collection of seahorses at an institution in Paris. Together, a small group of people worked hard to create a monumental fountain that is still in operation today.   

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