Fountains, Kansas City
Favorite thing: Walk around the Country Club Plaza and enjoy the many beautiful fountains. The Plaza is an outdoor museum of romantic Spanish architecture and European sculpture and art. It was designed in 1922 as the nation's first suburban shopping district.
Favorite thing: Seville light fountain: This ornate fountain sits in a busy triangular intersection. Sculptor Bernhard Zuckerman was commissioned to create an exact replica of the Plaza de Los Reyes fountain in Seville, Spain. The central shaft is 30' tall and carved from several kinds of marble. Water flows from the four masked faces located near its 20' square base. It wasn't working when we were there but it is quite lovely when the water is running.
Favorite thing: See all the fountains. Kansas City has more working fountains than Rome, Italy. Kansas City's first fountains were erected over springs to provide clean drinking water for horses. One of the best known fountains is the JC Nichols Memorial Fountain.' This is the most-photographed of all of the city's fountains. The four equestrian fugures are said to represent four rivers: the Mississippi River (the one with the Indian riding the horse and beating off an alligator), the Volga River (with the bear), the Seine and the Rhine.
Favorite thing: Neptune Fountain is an 8,000-pound cast lead fountain It was found on the top of a train car full of scrap metal by workmen at a salvage company and was purchased for its weight in scrap metal.The god of the sea moves in his chariot pulled by three mythological sea horses.
Favorite thing: Kansas City likes water. Not only is it set upon the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers (convenient, since the city straddles the states of Kansas and Missouri), but the city has constructed an insane amount of fountains. Only Rome has more, according to city boosters. It's remarkable. Everywhere you walk in this town (and there are several nicely walkable areas), you pass by a fountain. Sometimes it's a magnificent work like this one; other times, it's a simple trickle. Either way, it's surprising for the visitor, and gives a nicely relaxing feel to the city.
Favorite thing: Another one of Kansas City's many public fountains, this is also on the bike/walking path east of the Plaza. The piece was designed by the famous Swedish sculptor Carl Milles. (For another piece by Milles, see the page about the "Konserthuset" on my Stockholm page.)
One of my favorite Kansas City Fountains is in the middle of this traffic circle at the intersection of Ward Parkway and Meyer Blvd. It has one of the largest flows of water of any KC fountain.
Now that Ward Parkway is a major thoroughfare linking the Plaza with South Kansas City, most people fly past here going 50 mph or more. In order to appreciate the fountain, you really should stop. After a series of bizarre and tragic traffic accidents here, there seems to be a move afoot to close off the traffic circle - or even move the fountain to a location where it might be better appreciated.
Favorite thing: You must make a special trip to the Plaza just to photograph and be photographed with the droolers. The Seville Light fountain is located on Country Club Plaza across the street from the Cheesecake Factory. The KCfountains.org website states that this fountain was designed "to be an exact replica of the Plaza de Los Reyes fountain in Seville, Spain."
Kansas City prides itself on its fountains, which are said to be more numerous here than anywhere else in the world. Well, I don't know about that, but there are plenty.
J.C. Nichols was the 1920s developer who created the Country Club Plaza, as well as numerous residential neighborhoods to the south and west. (I grew up in a J.C. Nichols development nearby.) He had traveled in Europe - specifically, in Spain - before World War I, and wanted to create something "of lasting value" in K.C. He spent millions on the Plaza and other projects, and was especially interested in fountains and statuary. The Nichols Fountain is at the northeast corner of the intersection of 47th Street (Cleaver Boulevard) and J.C. Nichols Parkway, just to the east of the Plaza.
From the official "Fountains of Kansas City" webpage: "This fountain is the best-known and most-photographed of all of the city's fountains. It is located at the east entrance to the popular Plaza district. The sculptures were created in the early 1900's and adorned the Mansion of Clarence Mackay in Long Island, NY. The fountain was transported to Kansas City, refurbished and dedicated in 1960. The J. C. Nichols Memorial Fountain has four equestrian fugues which are said to represent four rivers: the Mississippi River (the one with the Indian riding the horse and beating off an alligator), the Volga River (with the bear), the Seine and the Rhine. Children in the Kansas City area contributed more than $50,000 to the J. C. Nichols Fountain on the Plaza. . ."
From the official Kansas City Fountains website: "A triangular traffic island at a busy intersection on the Plaza is the setting for this ornate fountain. Sculptor Bernhard Zuckerman was commissioned to create an exact replica of the Plaza de Los Reyes fountain in Seville, Spain. The central shaft is 30' tall and carved from several kinds of marble. Water flows from the four masked faces located near its 20' square base."
J.C. Nichols Parkway at West 47th - the eastern edge of the Plaza.