Kansas City - City of Fountains

Kansas City has many nicknames: KC, Cowtown, Heart of America, and Paris of the Plains.  It is also known as the Barbeque Capital of the World, Jazz Capital of the World, and the Soccer Capital of America. However, Kansas City’s official nickname is the City of Fountains.

With over 200 fountains, Kansas City has the second most in the world, just behind Rome. The fountains at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Royals, are the largest privately funded fountains in the world.

However, the most notable are located on the Country Club Plaza. Designs range from French-inspired traditional fountains to modern works of art. The J.C. Nichols Bronze Horses on the corner of Main and J.C. Nichols Parkway at the entrance to the plaza are remarkable and a popular photo spot for locals and tourists.

Other highlights include the Black Marble H&R Block fountain in front of Union Station, which features synchronized water jets, and the fountain at Hallmark Cards World Headquarters in Crown Center.

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain

This fountain is the best-known and most-photographed of all of the Kansas City fountains. It has four heroic horsemen which are said to represent mighty four rivers of the world: the Mississippi River (fending off an alligator), the Volga River (with the bear), the Seine, and the Rhine. The figures were sculpted by Henri Greber in 1910 for the mansion of Clarence Mackay in Long Island, NY.

The Nichols family initiated the purchase and installation of the fountain in 1950, and it was dedicated in 1960. The city and private contributions including a collection by school children in the Kansas City area continue it’s funding. The fountain underwent an extensive renovation in 2014 funded by the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation.

Neptune Fountain

The Neptune Fountain on the Plaza is another Kansas City favorite. Miller Nichols purchased the 8,000-pound cast lead fountain for its weight in scrap metal. It was found on the top of a train car full of scrap metal by workmen at a salvage company. Installed in the 1950's, the Roman god of the sea moves in his chariot pulled by three attributes, the trident, dolphin and sea horse. The fountain originally came from the Bromsgrove Guild, Worcestershire, England in 1911. It is also located on the Country Club Plaza at 47th and Wornall Road.

Kansas City’s First Fountain

The first fountains in Kansas City were for horses, birds and dog serving a practical purpose. In 1883 the Humane Society of Kansas City was established to prevent cruelty to women, children and animals. In 1904, they built Kansas City's first fountain near the west end of the intercity viaduct, 3rd and Minnesota. It has a large square pedestal with 4 small pools for dogs to drink from at street level and a 4' diameter granite basin at a height for horses to drink. The water came out of spigots in lions' mouths into this taller bowl so people could get clean water in their cups. The overflow went into the street level basins for the dogs. There was a street light on top. It was moved to 18th & Parallel and finally in 1967 given to the Wyandotte County Museum.

For a full list of Kansas City fountains, visit http://kcparks.org/fountains/.


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11 Dec 2015

By Mike Montague