Pretty much everyone knows about Buckingham Fountain at Columbus
Drive and Congress Parkway, overlooking Lake Michigan. It's one of
the great, free, visual spectacles for families (though the parking
meters are pricey). And when the wind is blowing in your direction,
you get a free shower.
Pretty much everyone knows the fountain runs from 8 a.m. to 11
p.m., April till mid-October, and that in the evening, every hour
on the hour for 20 minutes, it is accompanied by spectacular lights
and music (last display at 10 p.m.).
And if you go to the Chicago Park District/Buckingham Fountain
Trivia website, you'll find out that the fountain's
capacity is 1.5 million gallons, that 14,100 gallons of water per
minute shoot through 134 jets at its peak, and that the central
geyser rises 150 feet in the air.
But what not everyone knows is that one of the best times to see
the fountain is when the Honeywell Excel-Plus computer in the
adjacent pump house gets the whole mechanism started.
If 8 a.m. is too early for you, Park District of Chicago
spokesperson Marta Juaniza says they restart it each day at 11 a.m.
in sequential order, beginning with the central jet on top that
produces the geyser. Next come the 36 jets pointing upward in the
top basin, followed by 12 jets in the upper trough that arc up into
the top bowl, then 12 jets in the inner trough that arc into the
upper trough, then 12 more jets in the lower trough that arc into
the inner trough, followed by the eight jets spouting from the
seahorses' mouths, plus 20 sundry other jets.
When the fountain is full, it all stops, then starts again in
It shows kids how the whole thing works. Quite a sight. Worth a
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