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Buckingham Fountain Opens This Weekend: A Look At 90 Years of Splashy Fun

By DNAinfo Staff | May 5, 2017 11:23am | Updated on May 5, 2017 11:24am
 Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.
Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.
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DOWNTOWN — Another sign of summer is upon us: the re-start of Buckingham Fountain.

The Grant Park fountain will be turned on at 6 p.m. Saturday.

A ComEd-sponsored ceremony for the fountain's 90th anniversary begins at 4 p.m. with giveaways, games and music from Beatles tribute band American English.

During the summer, the fountain runs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., producing a major water display for 10 minutes of every hour, says the Chicago Park District. At dusk, a light and music display begins every hour on the hour.

Here are some things you may not know about the fountain:

• It is named for Clarence Buckingham and donated by his sister, art patron and philanthropist Kate Sturges Buckingham. The Buckingham family made its fortune in grain elevators, real estate and steel. It cost $750,000 to construct in 1927, or about $10.5 million in today's dollars. The family was very involved in the Art Institute of Chicago.

 Buckingham Fountain as seen in 1927.
Buckingham Fountain as seen in 1927.
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City of Chicago

• At its dedication, John Philip Sousa and his famous band played.

• In 1946, the lights were turned off in an effort to conserve energy.

• The fountain is made of pink Georgia marble with some granite elements. The sculptures are made of bronze.

• The fountain's capacity is 1.5 million gallons of water. The water is recirculated.

• It was manually operated from 1927 through the 1970s. It became fully automated in 1980.

• The carved fish heads were once stolen but recovered at a salvage yard when a buyer noticed they looked familiar.

• Many tourists are familiar with it from the Married With Children show, which used it in the beginning credits of the sitcom. Some call it the Al Bundy Memorial Fountain.

• We also ran across this film from Fox Movietone News from 1929 showing dancers in front of the fountain.