Fountain Day in Kansas City

Picture of Northland Fountain

Picture of Northland Fountain at Anita B. Gorman Park. | Photo via KCMO Parks

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There are lots of signs of spring in Kansas City — the flowering trees downtown, the reopening of farmers’ markets, and we can’t forget soccer + baseball season.

Locals know another marker of spring alludes to one of KC’s nicknames — “City of Fountains.” Happy Fountain Day, Kansas City.

This year, Fountain Day celebrates Anita B. Gorman (the first woman KC Parks commissioner). Officials will turn on the Northland Fountain in Gorman Park — at N. Oak Tfwy. + NE Vivion Rd. — during a ceremony from 10-11 a.m.

KC’s first fountains

The first fountains bubbled up out of need, not beauty, beginning as little more than public troughs. Western travelers in the 1800s would come through Kansas City needing a drink.

Then, landscape architect George Kessler designed the first city-built fountain at 15th Street and The Paseo. It was later destroyed, but his second fountain, built in 1899, still exists at 9th Street and The Paseo — as The Women’s Leadership Fountain. These works, part of the City Beautiful urban design movement at the time, inspired other local artists to get into the fountain business.

City of Fountains Foundation

Fast forward 70 years. It’s 1973, and Hallmark Cards executive Harold Rice, and his wife Peggy, take a trip to Rome. While there, they saw a lot of fountains in disrepair, and they got to thinking about KC’s own broken-down bubblers. In order to prevent the same fate, they established the City of Fountains Foundation.

The nonprofit works with KC’s Parks and Rec Department, advocating for the public sculptures + raising funds for maintenance and occasional relocation.

Fountain Day, 2022

Today, KC has 48 publicly-owned fountains — all of which are listed here. The rest (200+) are listed and mapped by the foundation.

Forty-one will flow today, with the rest sprinkling in this week. The following nine need repairs:

  • 49/63 Neighborhood Fountain
  • Brush Creek Fountains
  • Eighth Street Fountain
  • Helen Spradling Boylan Memorial Fountain
  • Mill Creek Park Eco-Pond Fountain
  • Observation Park Fountain
  • Romany Fountain
  • Westside Fountain
  • William T. Fitzsimons Memorial Fountain