The fountain was commisioned in 1927 by Kate Buckingham to honor her late brother Clarence. She had frequently traveled to Europe, where she admired the huge public fountains and wanted to bring some of Europe’s monumentality to Chicago.
One of the largest fountains in the world, the Buckingham Fountain measures 85m/280ft in diameter. It features 134 jets powered by 3 pumps.
The fountain’s hourly 20 minute water display starts with small sprays. While the basins are filled, more and more jets are activated until it reaches its climax when the central jet pushes water up to a height of 46m/150ft. The animation is best seen at dusk – after 8 pm – when it is accompanied with music and beautifully animated with a now computerized choreography of color spotlights.