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Buckingham Fountain Trivia

Facts about the Windy City's popular attraction

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Buckingham Fountain at night

photo © Jim Jurica

How much do you know about Chicago's famous landmark, the Buckingham Fountain? Probably not as much as you think. Here's a collection of facts about the fountain to help you gear up for the next game of Trivial Pursuit, Chicago Edition:

  • The Buckingham Fountain is one of the world's largest.


  • It is not named after Buckingham Palace. The fountain's benefactor, Kate Buckingham, dedicated it on May 26, 1927 as a memorial for her late brother, Clarence.


  • Buckingham Fountain is paid for not by the city, but through the Buckingham Fountain Endowment Fund, which Kate Buckingham established so that Chicago taxpayers would never have the burden of fountain costs.


  • The fountain received a $2.8 million restoration in 1994.


  • Edward H. Bennett's design of Buckingham Fountain was directly influenced by the Latona Basin in Louis XIV's gardens at Versailles.


  • The fountain and its beautiful four sea horses, built by Marcel Loyau, are meant to represent Lake Michigan. Each of the sea horses represents the four states that border the lake: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.


  • The fountain is constructed out of Georgia pink marble.


  • Buckingham Fountain on television: the fountain appeared in the opening credits of Married… With Children, and was the starting line for the 6th season of The Amazing Race.


  • The fountain is powered by 3 pumps that push 14,100 gallons of water per minute through 134 water jets.


  • The fountain holds 1.5 million gallons of water.


  • The base of Buckingham Fountain is 280 feet in diameter.


  • The fountain's lighting display is made up of 820 lights meant to convey an effect of "soft moonlight".


  • The fountain is complete controlled by a "Honeywell Excel-Plus" computer located underground in the fountain's pump house. Until the 1994 renovation, the computer was located in Atlanta, Georgia.


  • Buckingham Fountain is actually equipped with a security alarm, which is monitored by a security company in Chicago's Northwest suburbs.

So now that you're armed with all this knowledge about Buckingham Fountain, get yourself downtown and see the darned thing!

Read more in my Buckingham Fountain profile.

Source: Chicago Park District

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