To really appreciate Buckingham Fountain, visitors should see it twice. In the daylight, the details impress. One of the largest in the world, the fountain is 280 feet in diameter at its base and stands more than 25 feet high. In designing it, Edward H. Bennett took inspiration from the Latona Basin in Louis XIV’s gardens at Versailles. Representing Lake Michigan, the main basin is surrounded by four sea horses, symbolizing the four states that touch the lake: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
Hidden deep within the fountain, 134 hidden jets force 14,100 gallons of water per minute into the air. As water crashes down and flows over the Georgia pink granite basins, torrents spew from the mouths of the four weathered green sea serpents, creating a frothy tiered wedding cake. Every hour on the hour a center jet shoots a stream of water 150 feet into the air for a roaring 20 minute show.
At dusk, the fountain morphs into a multi-hued ball of cotton candy as 820 lights and colored glass filters are trained on the gushing waters. Lights and accompanying music produce an ethereal effect, especially when the center jet erupts on the hour, sending a curtain of colored mist high into the night sky.
Buckingham Fountain, one of Chicago’s most popular landmarks, is located on the lakefront at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway in Grant Park. It operates between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, from April through mid-October. The final display of the evening begins at 10:00 p.m. No admission is required.
Article by Barbara Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travels