Kansas City is known for many things – among them jazz, barbecue and fountains – all of which add to KC’s unique culture. As a native, I’m proud to say I was exposed to all at an early age. But what seems to surprise most visitors are our beautiful and vast amount of fountains.
When I was growing up, fountains served a practical purpose – they were a way to cool off in the summer. In fact, the city’s first fountains were created to provide clean drinking water for animals. Apparently, the horse population in 1910 was about 70,000. Today, the horse population is much smaller and fountains serve more aesthetic than practical purposes. Although, I’m sure a child is still known to jump in, and there’s occasionally a dog caught getting a drink.
The fountains in Kansas City range from majestic to whimsical, public and private, and span across the entire metro area. Because new fountains are added regularly, no one knows exactly how many fountains are in the metropolitan area, but at last count there were more than 200. Only Rome, Italy is said to have more.
Many may not know this, but it is an unwritten policy that a fountain of some sort be incorporated into the design of any major new public or commercial building project. Recent projects such as the Power & Light District and the Legends Outlets, which operates its fountains year-round, have included fountains in their development.
Probably the most popular area to see lots of fountains is the Country Club Plaza. But fountains can be found all across the city. The City of Fountains Foundation keeps a database of all of Kansas City’s waterworks at KCFountains.org.
The fountains flow through spring and fall. So, as we anticipate flowers blooming in spring we also anticipate the opening of KC’s fountains.
Every April, Kansas City’s fountains come to life. Mark your calendars, because this year’s Greater Kansas City Fountain Day is Tuesday, April 9. The opening celebration takes place at the Children’s Fountain, 32nd Street and North Oak Trafficway, at 11 a.m. April 9.
Another fountain event to put on your calendar is the KC Festival of Fountains on Sunday, June 9, at the stunning Henry Block Fountain in front of Union Station.
So as you are driving around KC, see how many fountains you can spot! Betcha you can’t find the 200 plus!
From Toni Alexander, communications manager at the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association.