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fountains chapter 1

Ok, here is the scoop: Kansas City is known as the "City of Fountains." It boasts more than 200 fountains throughout the entire metro area which is more per capita than any other city in the country. Amanda and I have spent our whole lives in Kansas City, driving by many of these fountains on a daily basis. The other day we decided that we wanted to see them all, and that is what we have set out to do. Although it would be nearly impossible to find every fountain in Kansas City, our research allowed us to compile a list of approximately 157 fountains in the Kansas City area. We figured that was a good start. We know we probably missed several. In fact, this journey has taken us by fountains we didn't know existed in search of the ones on our list. This has not been an easy task. First we had to research the location of each fountain, then map them out all over Kansas City to determine the best route we should take to see them all. The planning phase took almost as much time as the actual execution of the project, but it has been such a neat experience. We have been to parts of the city we had never seen before this. Other experiences have taken us to fountains we drive by all the time but never pay attention to. We have learned so much and fallen in love again with the city we call home. 

For the first day of our adventure, we decided to focus on the downtown district. My cousins were in town and had brought their au pair with them. Being from France, she was eager to get out and see the city, and we were thrilled to have a personal photographer join us on the trip. Amanda, Marine and I loaded up the car and headed out. We didn't get far before stopping at a Sonic. Amanda and I felt it was only necessary that Marine have a true experience while in America, and what better way than grabbing fountain drinks from America's Drive-In to kick things off?!? She just had to try that crushed ice you can't find anywhere else!
Our first fountain was also the oldest fountain in Kansas City. It was originally built in 1899. It was actually the second fountain in all of Kansas City, but the first was destroyed in 1941 making this one the oldest. The city started building these fountains for the public to drink from, but after several fountains were erected throughout the city, and we became known for the structures, they became more aesthetically pleasing. The fountain was built in 1899 for $4115. In the 1940s it quit working, and was not repaired until 1970. In 1990 it was restored for $125,000, but that only lasted 18 years. In 2008 the fountain was completely renovated for $1.3 million. Although it maintains the original design, it boasts a more contemporary style of that design.
Just three blocks down the road is the William Fitzsimons fountain. Dedicated to William Fitzsimons (duh) who was a graduate of KU's school of medicine. He volunteered his medical services in World War I and was the first official U.S. casualty of the war in September of 1917. Unfortunately, this lion head had some water pressure problems. I don't think the designer of this fountain meant for him to be drooling.
 
Third stop, the North East Concourse. In 1939 it was designed as a reflecting pool and called the North East Casting Pool. Fishermen were frequent visitors to the reflecting pool where they would practice their casting techniques. In the 1960s water spouts were added and the name was changed.
Although this fountain was not on our list (and not in working condition), we couldn't help but stop and snag a picture with it on our journey!
The Carl J. Dicapo fountain (which is more of a waterfall) was constructed to showcase a natural spring, and honor the restauranteur and community volunteer.
One of two American Legion fountains in the city, the America Legion Budd Park fountain was originally intended to be used as a drinking fountain. It quotes Teddy Roosevelt "All daring and courage, all iron, endurance or misfortune, all devotion to the ideal of honor and glory of the flag makes for a finer and nobler type of humanhood." We found the no turtles sign to be a humorous addition to the fountain.

As we entered the true downtown district of Kansas City, we made a decision we would regret later. Rather than constantly pay for parking while tracking down these fountains, we chose to park in one place and walk the downtown area in search of 12 fountains. Let me tell you, they looked a lot closer together on our map, and the map does not factor in how steep the hills were on these streets. Plus, it was 97 degrees and ultra humid. Needless to say, an hour later we were grateful for air conditioning and our newly formed calf muscles.
The Illus Davis Civic Mall fountain was constructed in the place of an old parking lot to provide aesthetic appeal and allow visibility to both the Federal Courthouse and City Hall. Illus Davis was part of the first graduating class of UMKC and served in several leadership positions throughout the city.
The Winged Horses line both sides of the walkway leading up to City Hall. Closest to the building are the winged horses themselves with a dolphin on either side of them. Seashells with sea creatures emerging from them line the rest of the path.
Although we could not track down any information about the Federal Building fountain, it does feature another popular trend in Kansas City. Often businesses will dye the water in the fountains for certain events. In October, many fountains are dyed pink in honor of breast cancer awareness. The bright blue  you see here is in support of our very own Kansas City Royals! 
The Commerce Bank fountain at 10th and Main features a lion head. Lion head fountains were originally created to add appeal to drinking fountains throughout a city, but also to represent strength in that city. Many of the fountains we have found thus far on this adventure showcase the lion head design.
 
Directly across the street is the William T. and Charlotte Crosby Kemper Memorial fountain, and if you think that is a mouthful, you can just call it the 10th Street fountain. The design is inspired by the architecture of the Commerce Bank building across the street, and the ancient stone bowl in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It was erected to display the simplicity and strength of the commitment the Kemper family offers to Kansas City.
The Fountain of Life is located in the Commerce Tower Sunken Garden and was one of three fountains constructed in the area in the 1960s.
The Muse of Missouri was donated to the city in 1963 by the Kemper family in honor of Lt. David Woods Kemper. He was lost his life in Italy during World War II. Greek Muses represent arts and literature, but this fountain represents the spirit of the Missouri River.
Built in 1989 in the Garment District of Kansas City, the 8th Street Fountain was built for Proctor and Gamble's 150th Anniversary.
The Grace and Holy Trinity fountain was a big disappointment. We walked many blocks straight uphill to find that the fountain was not working. We later found out that in the last election year a tax cut was passed. Many of the fountains in Kansas City are no longer running due to the fountain budget being cut as part of that initiative.
The Barney Allis Plaza fountain is one Amanda had been looking forward to all day. This being one of her favorite fountains in the city, she posed happily with our 15th fountain of the day. The fountain is nearly a block long and has 112 jets that are computer programmed to control the color and height of the water columns. 
Tucked inside the lobby of the Marriott was our 16th fountain on the list and a much needed blast of air conditioning! We stayed a moment not because we were wowed by the structure of the fountain, but because we had to cool off a little before heading back out into the summer heat.
The Harvesters KC fountain is located in the heart of downtown in honor of the great organization. Harvesters KC is part of a community food network with a mission to end world hunger.
We finally got back in the car and crossed the highway to explore the Crown Center district. Kansas City is the home of the Hallmark world headquarters, and Crown Center is the epicenter of that 85 acre complex. Amanda and I took Marine to Fritz's train station restaurant for lunch. It is a local favorite and one I have written about in previous posts. After grabbing some lunch we began our trek around the area to find eight more fountains. This first one is creatively titled the Crown Center Entrance fountain.
Directly across the street is what we know as the Crown Center Square fountains. Periodically the fountains perform programmed water displays to music performed by the Kansas City Symphony. Previously the fountains were a destination for locals and visitors alike to play in and cool off on a summer day. In 2012, an increased number of visitors to the area posed the issue of increased potential for accidents or the spread of waterborne health issues. Due to this, access to the fountains by the public is prohibited. This change caused quite a commotion amongst people who had been visiting these fountains for years.
We were so relieved when we finally found the Hallmark Corporate Entrance fountain far from where we originally thought it was. Hallmark Cards, Inc. was founded in 1910. Today the cards are sold in more than 100 countries around the world and brought in $4 billion in 2012. This in part to the expansion of the company by acquiring Crayola and creating the Hallmark Television Channel. The hike to the fountain was one that exhausted us. Thank goodness for the downhill walk to our next destination.
 
What was more fascinating than the fountain in the lobby of the Sheraton Kansas City was the creative metal sculptural design hanging above, and drawing attention to the less than spectacular fountain below. Plus, we got a small dose of air conditioning before continuing on.
The waterfall in the Crown Center Westin hotel was one I had visited many times. In fact, this hotel was where I stayed with the twins on our sisters only trip just six months ago. The girls wiped me out of change by throwing some in the fountain every time we passed here. It was also the destination of my eighth birthday party.
Located in front of Union Station is our 23rd fountain and a personal favorite of mine. The Henry Wollman Bloch fountain. Henry Bloch was the cofounder of H&R Block. The fountain is known to be the highest shooting fountain in Kansas City. Now let me throw some numbers at you. This fountain holds 85,000 gallons of water, and pumps 9,225 gallons each minute out of its 232 jets than can shoot up to 120 feet in the air! Pretty impressive, and a major contributing factor to why it tops my favorite list. Also, Union Station just so happens to be one of my favorite buildings in the city and home to many of my childhood memories. Plus, it is featured in my favorite view of the city from the top of Liberty Memorial, which is precisely where we headed next.
Although the actual Liberty Memorial fountain just adjacent to the Henry Wollman Bloch fountain was not flowing, the South Garden Reflecting Pool at Liberty Memorial was in service. Liberty Memorial is home to the National World War I Museum. The museum's mission statement is as follows, "The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial inspires thought, dialogue, and learning to make the experiences of the World War I era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations."
Our last stop of the first day, and 25th fountain was the Westside fountain. It is dedicated to the major efforts of the Hispanic community in Kansas City. After finding this fountain we decided rest was needed and we would continue our efforts the next day. Adventure day one was a successful and gave us the experience we needed to double our findings the next day.

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