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City Park Planning Using Concrete Fountains

Jan 11, 2008
History of Concrete Fountains

Fountains have been part of city parks since the Babylonians and the Hanging Gardens. In ancient times, fountains in the park served as a water source for horses and humans. Unfortunately, this greatly increased the risk of disease, along with the lack of an enclosed sewage system. The Romans were the first people to build concrete fountains. They were the first civilization to actually work with something close to "Portland cement", using the ashes of volcanoes to provide the phosphorus and bitumen to cure it.

Fast forward from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance period and during this time, the concept of an ornamental fountain gained resurgence. Many fountains were carved from marble and hard stone; however, concrete fountains began to grow in popularity as a fountain material choice. Also during the renaissance period came the idea that city parks should be less functional and more recreational. View a distinctive collection of concrete fountains at http://www.garden-fountains.com/Categories.bok?category=Garden+Fountains.

With the Industrial Revolution and the ability to circulate water under pressure, rather than through gravity falls off of aqueducts, the ornamental fountain became a centerpiece in modern city park design, starting in the 1840s. It wasn't until the invention of true "Portland cement" in the 1870s that cement fountains in city park planning became a standard design item that urban planners built around.

Turn of the Twentieth Century

While most fountains built in city parks were inspired from classical designs, several "modernist" designed wall fountains also made their way to park design across the country, including several in Chicago, New York and St. Louis. Wall fountains were often used to subdivide parks into discrete areas. This may have also included foliage as well as an integration of harmonious integration of all elements in park design, following the teachings of Leigh Bridge and Nolan, two notable civic planners in the 1910s and 20s.

After World War II, when American productivity was at an all time high relative to the rest of the world, many American cities (and American businesses) began installing fountains in their city centers and city parks, both wall fountains and ornamental concrete types. Most of the fountains aped the styling of the Renaissance period.

Some concrete fountains went for abstract geometric shapes, or integrated lighting systems, and a few even integrated subsonic sound systems to reinforce the relaxation of falling and splashing water. Most were made of sealed concrete. Sealed concrete fountains are low maintenance and easy for park officials to take care of and they provide a natural congregation point within a park. They are excellent locations for park goers to sit around and talk, watch their children, eat lunch, read a newspaper, play chess, or just watch people go by.

Modern Usage of Concrete Fountains

Many more city planners are getting behind the idea of fountains in park design, following the display of monuments like the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. or the Lincoln Memorial. Other notable concrete fountains include the one in Kirby Plaza, shown in the finale of the NBC hit series Heroes, and the fountain outside Soldier Field that started up during the opening credits of the now canceled television show, "Married With Children." A good concrete fountain is a solid addition for civic park planning and don't forget to look for wall fountains too, as they are also extremely delightful. To view a unique collection of wall fountains visit http://www.garden-fountains.com/Categories.bok?category=Wall+Fountains.
About the Author
Elizabeth Jean is a frequent contributor to Garden-Fountains.com, the Internet's #1 resource for wall fountains, indoor fountains and garden statuary.
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