Monday, December 12, 2016

The Drake Fountain, Chicago, Illinois. 1892

The Drake fountain is believed to be the first statue in Chicago to commemorate Christopher Columbus. This monument was dedicated in December 1892, marking the 400th anniversary of the explorers’ voyage to the Americas. 
Walking past the Drake Fountain on LaSalle Sreet
outside of City Hall, Chicago. 1906
The 7 ½ foot bronze figure is of Columbus as a young man with globe in hand. The fountain is inspired by Gothic architecture and a small granite columns and curving buttresses rise up 33 feet to the pointed spire on top.
Originally located downtown on the Washington Street side of City Hall in 1892 to provide chilled drinking water to those in the Loop, the fountain was moved to the LaSalle side in 1906. The fountain dispensed into four granite basins what is still listed on the monument: ice water. 
A surviving example of Victorian-era public drinking fountains, it was hoped at the time that it would be an alternative to nearby saloons. The fountain was moved twice as the city razed buildings and redirected the flow of traffic. 
In 1909, Southeast Chicago residents complained about the lack of public art in their part of town and were able to get the fountain move to the location where it still stands in 
Richard Henry Park on 92nd Street and Exchange Ave. It was designated a Chicago landmark in 2004. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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