The Clarence Buckingham Fountain, one of the world’s largest, is situated at Columbus Drive (301 East) and Congress Parkway (500 South) in Grant Park. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily from early May to mid-October, weather permitting. Grant Park events affect display times.
The Fountain performs a 20-minute water show every hour. The main jet discharges 150 feet of water during the major spectacle. Every hour on the hour, major shows begin at 9 a.m. A light and music show begins every hour on the hour for 20 minutes at dusk. The final nightly show starts at 10:35 p.m.
Kate S. Buckingham donated the Buckingham Fountain to honor her brother Clarence. It’s a Chicago Landmark and part of Grant Park’s NRHP classification.
Kate Sturges Buckingham (1858–1937) was the last Buckingham. The Ohio-born Buckinghams made their fortune through grain elevators, real estate, and steel. Kate and her brother Clarence Buckingham (1854-1913) were passionate art collectors who gave to the Art Institute of Chicago. Kate Buckingham built a fountain in Grant Park to memorialize her brother in the 1920s.
Edward H. Bennett of Bennett, Parsons, and Frost designed the fountain, while Marcel Loyau created the sculptures. Jacques Lambert and Clarence W. Farrier were project associates. Pink Georgia marble, granite, and bronze statues create the fountain. Kate Buckingham desired “gentle moonlight” for the fountain’s illumination. According to a Chicago Park District brochure, “though advanced in years,” Miss Buckingham “worked night after night with specialists, testing out various hues of glass and modifying the control of electric current” to obtain “blends… that satisfied her”
- Three pumps power water displays. Pump 1 runs the fountain all day. The main display uses pumps 2 and 3.
- Pump 75 hp for 1,600 gal/min
- Pump 190 hp for 5,500 gallons/min
- Pump 250 hp for 7,000 gal/min
- The Fountain has 133 jets.
- 1 center jet in the upper basin for a 150-foot geyser
- 34 jets from the upper basin along the inner top ring,
- 34 jets at all three basin consoles
- Each basin has 12 jets that spray an arc, and 8 jets come from the sea horses’ mouths.
- 20 jets (4 groups of 5)
The Fountain holds 1.5 million gallons. Major displays recycle 14,100 gallons of water per minute with 134 jets. After the basins are filled, water is recirculated from the base pool; only wind and evaporation losses are replaced. The lower basin is 103 feet, the middle basin is 60 feet, and the upper basin is 24 feet. The upper basin is 25 feet above the lower basin. The fountain has a two-level pump house. The first-floor control room is 35 feet long and 25 feet wide. Original pumps and motors still work. Garfield Park Conservatory is also one of the famous places in Chicago; please pay a visit to it. If you need installation service, contact Mr. Quality; they’re providing their service in Chicago. Contact them at 708-748-1946.