Buckingham Fountain brings back wonderful childhood memories for me. We used to pile in the station wagon and drive downtown on Sundays to see the fountain, of course, after our Rainbow cones. What is a Rainbow cone, you ask? Only the best ice cream ever. Lol… ask anyone from the southwest side of Chicago (Beverly). Luckily you don’t have to go all the way to the southside. You can get one at the Navy Pier location. And new this year, they have an ice cream truck that visits different suburbs during the summer! You can find out where exactly by following them on social media. You’re welcome!
Back to Buckingham Fountain. Kate Sturges Buckingham donated 1 million dollars in memory of her brother Clarence. It was dedicated on August 26, 1927, which makes it 92! It cost $750,000 to build or $10 million in today’s dollars. Kate was an art collector & philanthropist. Her family made their fortune from steel, grain elevators & real estate.
Not only is it one of the largest fountains in the world, it also has a spectacular water display every hour on the hour. The center jet shoots up 150 ft (46 m) and lasts for 20 minutes. It circulates more than 15,000 gallons (56,782 l) of water per minute and contains more than 1,500,000 gallons (5,700,000 l) of water, and has nearly 200 jets.
Inspired by the Lafonta Fountain in Versailles and constructed of Georgia pink marble, it was designed by Edward Bennett and engineer Jacques Lambert. While the fountain represents Lake Michigan, the four-horse sculptures represent the states that border it, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois & Wisconsin. Created by French sculptor Marcel F. Loyau, who was awarded the Prix National at the 1927 Paris Salon.
The fountain’s pumps are controlled by a Honeywell computer, previously located in Atlanta, Georgia, until 1994. That year it underwent a $2.8 million renovation and then moved to the fountain’s pump house. The fountain’s security system is monitored from the Chicago suburb, Arlington Heights.
insider tour photos
Here are some photo’s I took from a CTPA (Chicago Tour Guides Professional Association) tour of the pump house.
See Buckingham Fountain in all its glory from mid-April to mid-October (weather permitting, of course) from 8 am to 11 pm. Make sure you stick around to see the center jet shoot up every hour on the hour, which will last for 20 minutes. The shows are choreographed with lights and music after dusk. The last show begins at 10:00 pm nightly.
Every time I visit Buckingham Fountain, I find myself craving a Rainbow cone. Good thing Navy Pier is not too far away!
Did I mention that Buckingham Fountain is one of the stops on my Chicago Highlights by car route? I hire a car & driver so we can get out to see certain sites up close. This is a great, year-round tour. If interested, you can check out my reviews & book a tour with me. Go to www.ToursByLocals.com and search for Mimi in Chicago.
Ready for an urban adventure?