The Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain is one of the biggest fountains in the world. It is twice the size of its inspiration, an ornate fountain at the Palace of Versailles in France, built for Louis XV. This crown jewel at Grant Park was designed by architect Edward H. Bennett and has a “wedding cake” shape along with four sets of Art Deco-style seahorses that symbolize the four states bordering Lake Michigan. The fountain has a water display shooting up to a height of 150 feet in the air for 20 minutes every hour from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. depending on the weather. This fountain was a gift from Miss Kate Buckingham to Chicago and according to an early Chicago Park District brochure, despite her advanced years she worked closely with the technicians trying out different colors of glass and adjusting the control of electric current to produce visual blends to emulate her concept of “soft moonlight.”
My friend and I ended up at this spot while scouting for fall foliage around downtown after a ravishing Sunday brunch. While we were not lucky enough to spot exclusive fall colors in the area, we were most certainly swept off of our feet by this majestic attraction. We made it in time and reached during the first 20 minutes of the hour when the water display was on. It was a pleasant sunny afternoon and the water and sunlight formed a mesmerizing rainbow that kept moving with the direction of the water around the fountain. The breeze from the lake shore spread out the rainbow so much so, that it touched the ground. Never had I ever seen a rainbow waving around like a flag like that before.
Ironically, visiting huge and crowded intimidating places bring me peace and make my problems feel smaller in the grand scheme of things. I spent an hour on a bench by this attraction soaking in the sun and spotted the cutest little dogs and brightest smiles. A visit to this 94-year-old tourist spot made my Sunday and I couldn’t have asked for a better end to the day than sitting by the banks of Lake Michigan which is about a minute or two away from the fountain.