If you ever watched the old TV sitcom Married with Children, you’re already familiar with this Chicago landmark. However, Buckingham Fountain was around decades before Al started flushing the toilet and sticking his hand down his pants.
Officially named the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain (and Garden), the ornate fountain was built in 1927 by philanthropist Kate Buckingham, in memory of her brother. It’s located in the center of Grant Park, which runs between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.
Chicago’s skyline is especially impressive from Grant Park, and Buckingham Fountain provides a great foreground for your pictures. Looking west from here, you can see the Sears Tower and all the buildings that line Michigan Avenue.
It seems to be a regular occurrence, that several of Chicago’s buildings change their lighting to reveal messages. During my visit, several buildings read “CPD” and one displayed a badge number, in memory of a fallen Chicago Police officer.
This is one of the four sea horses, which were designed to represent the four states which border Lake Michigan.
Hang around at the base of the fountain for a while, and you’ll be able to witness its hourly display. On the hour, the fountain’s high powered pumps kick in and shoot water 150 feet in the air. I’ve heard there is also a special display of music and changing lights, but during my visit the only change on the hour was the geyser’s height.
– The fountain has 134 water jets
– There are 820 lights inside the fountain
– Three pumps power the fountain, moving 14,100 gallons per minute
– An underground room houses the pumps. The room is 25 feet high and 35 feet long.
– The fountain operates April – October, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Here’s one more view of Buckingham Fountain, this time looking east, towards the darkness above Lake Michigan.
After a while at the fountain, you’ve probably enjoyed the lights, the geyser of water, and hummed the tune to “love and marriage” about a hundred times. When you’re ready to move on, consider walking up Columbus Drive to Millennium Park. It’s about 3/4 mile away.
Note: This trip was first published in 2006.