Fountains originally served the purpose of providing fresh water for drinking, cooking, and bathing to ancient towns. These rudimentary fountains were connected to nearby springs or aqueducts and brought water to the town. The ancient Romans are credited with creating the first fountains purely for decorative use somewhere around 6 B.C. Rome’s famed Trevi Fountain dates to the 18th century and the first fountain in the U.S. can be traced to Philadelphia in the early 1800s. Modern day fountains are more for commemorative purposes or entertainment and the U.S. is home to some of the best. And, before you throw a penny for luck into any of these fountains, check for restrictions. However, it is good to note that most fountains that allow visitors to toss a coin or two donate the monies collected to charity.
Bellagio (Las Vegas, NV): Las Vegas is known for its bright lights and entertaining shows at the many venues along the Strip. One show which does not require a ticket is the amazing show put on by the Bellagio Fountains each night. Fun fact: this amazing fountain is not just one fountain but a series of 1200 individual fountains. The show uses more than 4500 lights, and the fountains shoot as high as 460 feet! The show’s accompanying music ranges from Broadway showtunes to pop to opera.
Crown Fountain/Buckingham Fountain (Chicago, IL): The Crown Fountain, which resides in Chicago’s Millennium Park, is designed to appear as if the faces depicted on the fountain’s glass towers are actually spitting water. The faces represent a cross-section of the demographics of the city’s population. A 10-minute walk to the south will put visitors in range of Chicago’s other famous fountain, Buckingham Fountain. A Chicago landmark, and one of the largest fountains of its type in the world, the fountain first wowed Chicago in 1927.
World War II Memorial (Washington DC): The National World War II Memorial was built to commemorate the commitment and sacrifice of all Americans during World War II. The Rainbow Pool contains the fountains while the surrounding monument contains two arches, which represent the Pacific and Atlantic warfronts, granite columns representing the U.S. states and territories during wartime, and 4048 gold stars, each of which represents 100 military casualties.
International Fountain (Seattle, WA): Built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the design reflects space exploration, which was all the rage in the early 1960s. The fountain can be found in Seattle Center near the iconic Space Needle, and it produces five different water shows synchronized to music from classical to the sounds of some of Seattle’s famous musical personalities. Redesigned in 1995, the fountain presents a very approachable way to cool off when visiting Seattle in the summer!
Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA): Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens isn’t famous for any one fountain, but instead for the multiple fountains found here. Fountains include the Main Fountain Garden and the Italian Water Garden. All kinds of events are designed around the fountains and a schedule can be found at longwoodgardens.org. Longwood’s founder, Pierre du Pont, had been fascinated by fountains since he was a young boy and incorporated them into this beautiful botanic garden set over 1000 acres, which opened in 1921.