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Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain is one of Chicago’s most famous landmarks and a centerpiece of Grant Park, often referred to as Chicago’s “front yard.” It is known for its grand size, intricate design, and the impressive water shows that it puts on. Designed in a rococo wedding cake style, the fountain operates from April to October, with regular water shows and evening color-light shows. It was dedicated in 1927 and is one of the largest fountains in the world.

History

The fountain was commissioned by Kate Buckingham in memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham, and was designed by architect Edward H. Bennett, with sculptures by Jacques Lambert. The design was inspired by the Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles. It was intended not only to be a monumental piece of art but also to serve as a focal point for the city’s new civic beautification plan.

Location

Buckingham Fountain is located in the center of Grant Park, at the intersection of Congress Parkway and Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago. It is situated in a prime location, offering a picturesque view of both the city’s skyline and Lake Michigan.

Website

While Buckingham Fountain does not have its own dedicated website, information about the fountain can be found on the Chicago Park District’s official website at chicagoparkdistrict.com.

Opening Hours

The fountain typically operates from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM from April to October, with water shows every hour on the hour and lasting 20 minutes. The evening light shows begin at dusk and continue until 10:35 PM. These details can change, so it’s a good idea to verify the current schedule on the Chicago Park District website or by contacting them directly.

Things to Do

  • Watch the Water Show: Experience the major water displays that occur every hour and include a central jet shooting water up to 150 feet in the air.
  • Evening Light Shows: After dusk, enjoy the choreographed light and music display that accompanies the water show.
  • Stroll in Grant Park: Explore the surrounding Grant Park area, including gardens, walking paths, and art installations.
  • Photography: Take advantage of the photogenic setting, capturing both the fountain and the Chicago skyline.
  • Attend Events: Grant Park is host to numerous events and festivals throughout the year, and the fountain is often a gathering place during these times.

Tips for Visiting

  • Best View: For the best photos, position yourself with the city skyline in the background, especially during the evening light show.
  • Weather: Since the fountain is outdoors, checking the weather forecast before your visit can be beneficial.
  • Parking: Parking is available in nearby lots and garages, but be prepared for downtown parking rates. Using public transportation or walking is often more convenient.
  • Bring Snacks: There are not many food vendors directly next to the fountain, so bring a snack or a picnic to enjoy in the park.
  • Respect Barriers: For safety and conservation reasons, do not climb on the fountain or enter the water.

Conclusion: Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain is not just a marvel of design and engineering; it is a cultural and historical touchstone for Chicago. The fountain’s powerful jets and evening light shows create a magical experience for visitors, while its presence in Grant Park ensures that it’s a hub of activity and leisure. Whether you’re visiting for the dynamic water displays or just to relax by the serene water against the backdrop of Chicago’s architecture, Buckingham Fountain is a testament to the city’s commitment to public art and green spaces. It remains a beloved attraction for both residents and tourists alike.

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