Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain is a Chicago landmark in the center of Grant Park which was dedicated in 1927. It is one of the largest fountains in the world. Built in a rococo wedding cake style and inspired by the Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles, it is meant to allegorically represent Lake Michigan. It is operated from April to October, with a periodic water show and evening color light show. During the winter, the fountain is decorated with festival lights.

History
The fountain is considered to be Chicago's front door, since it resides in Grant Park, the city's front yard. It is located near Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway. The fountain itself represents Lake Michigan, with each sea horse symbolizing the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, which border the lake. The fountain was designed by beaux arts architect Edward H. Bennett. The statues were created by the French sculptor Marcel F. Loyau. The design of the fountain was inspired by the Bassin de Latome and modeled after Latona Fountain at Versailles. The fountain was donated to the city by Kate Buckingham in memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham and was constructed at a cost of $750,000. The fountain official name is the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain. Kate Buckingham also established the Buckingham Fountain Endowment Fund with an initial investment of $300,000 to pay for maintenance of the fountain. Buckingham Fountain was dedicated on August 26, 1927.

Operation
Many tourists and Chicagoans visit the fountain each year. The fountain runs from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day from mid-April to mid-October. During a water display that runs for 20 minutes every hour on the hour, the center jet shoots up vertically to 150 feet (46 m). At dusk, a light and music show coincides with the water display. The last show of the night begins at 10:00 p.m. Each display last for 20 minutes. The fountain is constructed of Georgia pink marble. The fountain contains 1,500,000 U.S. gallons (5,700,000 L) of water. During a display, more than 14,000 U.S. gallons per minute (0.88 m 3/s) are pushed through its 193 jets. The bottom pool of the fountain is 280 feet in diameter, the lower basin is 103 feet, the middle basin is 60 feet and the upper basin is 24 feet. The lip of the upper basin is 25 feet above the water in the lower basin. The fountain's pumps are controlled by a Honeywell computer which was previously located in Atlanta, Georgia until the 1994 renovation.

Renovations
In 1994, the fountain received a $2.8 million restoration due to Chicago's harsh winter months. Currently, Buckingham Fountain is undergoing extensive renovations which started Labor Day, 2008. This three phase project will modernize the fountain. Phase I was dedicated April 3, 2009. This phase included permeable pavers laid down surrounding the fountain. This replaced the former crushed stones that were used since the fountain was originally constructed. The pavers make a safer and smoother surface. This new surface is ADA accessible. Phase II began in the winter of 2009. This phase included the demolition of the fountain table, installation of extensive underdrainage system, new landscaping, site lighting, signs, site furnishings, sewer system, selective demolition within or adjacent to the fountain's outer basin, repairs of some existing cast-in-place concrete elements and installation of new cast-in-place elements. Phase III updates have yet to be scheduled. This phase will include the restoration of Buckingham Fountain and fountain table, the construction of a new equipment room with selective demolition, structural construction and repair, masonry restoration and repair, mechanical and electrical work, bronze restoration and repair and installation of site improvements and amenities.

In popular culture
Buckingham Fountain was the official starting point of U.S. Route 66. The Fountain was also prominently featured in the title sequence to the television show Married...with Children . The Fountain was the starting point for the television show The Amazing Race 6 .