2 postcard views of fountain at Fifteenth and Paseo
The impressive 5-basin fountain, modeled after the Latone fountain of Versailles, France, was the first fountain erected in Kansas City by the park board, and was located at 15th and the Paseo. The cost was $11,427.73, a goodly sum in those days.
From the time the water was turned on June 14, 1899, it was plagued by trouble. It was found that the water, instead of gushing up majestically and pouring down cataract-like from basin to basin, merely rippled quietly over the rims in a dead sort of way, according to The Kansas City Times in a report June 22, 1908, reviewing the problems.
The story continued: A 4-inch water main supplied water at a rate of 16 gallons a second. Another main of the same size was added but 32 gallons a second did not seem to improve matters much.
In the 10 years of its existence the fountain has worked only intermittently. It was turned off and completely dry for something like five years (1903-1908).
June 23, 1908, the park board gave up trying to furnish enough water for their white elephant to drink. It was a sad tale of failure.
The fountain was then remodeled, the upper basins removed and small stand pipes and spray pipes installed, which reduced the volume of water required, and made the constant operation of the fountain practical.
Another article mentioned that President Theodore Roosevelt and other dignitaries received a wind-blown spray as they passed the fountain in their horse-drawn carriages during Roosevelt's visit to Kansas City, in 1910.
The fountain was demolished and removed in 1942. Several tons of dirt and a flower bed replaced it. Now I-70 passes overhead nearby and exit and entrance ramps carry heavy flows of traffic between Truman Road and the Paseo and the interstate in the area of the fountain site.
Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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