Drinking fountains in the United States

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This is a history and list of drinking fountains in the United States. A drinking fountain, also called a water fountain or bubbler, is a fountain designed to provide drinking water. It consists of a basin with either continuously running water or a tap. The drinker bends down to the stream of water and swallows water directly from the stream. Drinking water fountains are most commonly found in heavy usage areas like public amenities, schools, airports, and museums.


An African-American man drinking at a "colored" drinking fountain in a streetcar terminal in Oklahoma City, 1939.[1]
"Upon a slab above the niche are cut the words 'Pro bono publico'; beneath the basin these, 'Esto perpetua'."

The first of the drinking fountains in Philadelphia may rank among the earliest in the country. Constructed in 1854, it was explicitly labeled "For the public good", it had respectable neo-classical detailing, and it was privately funded, all of which would set a pattern.[2] It was described in 1884 as:

The first fountain, so called, stands upon the side of the road on the west side of the Wissahickon … It is claimed that this is the first drinking fountain erected in the county of Philadelphia outside of the Fairmount Water-Works. A clear, cold, mountain spring is carried by a spout, covered with a lion's head, from a niche in a granite front, with pilasters and pediment into a marble basin. The construction bears the date 1854 … Upon a slab above the niche are cut the words "Pro bono publico"; beneath the basin these, "Esto perpetua".[3]

In the late 1860s, a mix of progressive organizations and private philanthropists began funding purpose-built, public water fountains. Early examples include the first fountain funded by the new American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1867, in Union Square in New York City, and the work of the Philadelphia Fountain Society beginning in April 1869, whose fountains served people, horses, and dogs.[4] Those Philadelphia fountains immediately proved their "utility and absolute necessity;" by September 1869 the Fountain Society had constructed 12, and the newly-founded Pennsylvania branch of the ASPCA had built another five.[5] As of 1880, the Philadelphia Fountain Society alone maintained 50 fountains serving approximately 3 million people and 1 million horses and other animals.[6]

The ASPCA had been founded in 1866 in New York, and spread quickly to active branches in Philadelphia and other cities. One of its concerns was the difficulty of finding fresh water for work horses in urban areas. Combination drinking fountains that provided a bubbler for people and a water trough for horses, and sometimes a lower basin for dogs, became popular. In particular, over 120 National Humane Alliance fountains were donated to communities across the United States between 1903 and 1913. The fountains were the gift of philanthropist Hermon Lee Ensign.

Also working in parallel were various organizations of the Temperance Movement, who advocated abstinence from alcohol, and saw providing free fresh water as an attractive alternative. furthering its cause. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874, sponsored temperance fountains in towns and cities across the United States.[7] The Sons of Temperance built an elaborate and popular drinking fountain for Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exposition, later moved close to Independence Hall, that dispensed ice water.[8] Henry D. Cogswell, a dentist and temperance crusader who made a fortune in San Francisco real estate, sponsored (and designed) dozens of artistic fountains, some of which were adorned with a statue of himself.

Privately sponsored drinking fountains were often commissioned as works of art. Sculptors such as Karl Bitter, Alexander Stirling Calder, Gutzon Borglum and Daniel Chester French; and architects such as Paul Philippe Cret, Frederick Law Olmsted and Henry Hobson Richardson collaborated on them. These were frequently created as memorials to individuals, serving an ongoing utilitarian purpose as well as an artistic one.

Drinking fountains in the United States were often subject to racial segregation, until all legally enforced public segregation (segregation de jure) was abolished by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

List of drinking fountains (organized by state)[edit]

Name Location Image Sculptor Other designers Year Medium Usage Notes
Lotta's Fountain
Lotta Crabtree Fountain
Market, Geary & Kearny Streets,
San Francisco
Lotta Crabtree Fountain (San Francisco).JPG 1875 cast iron For people
Lotta Crabtree Fountain 1905.jpg
The fountain in 1905.
Actress Lotta Crabtree donated the fountain.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Statue of Benjamin Franklin (San Francisco)
Temperance Fountain
Cogswell Historical Monument
Washington Square,
San Francisco
Ben Franklin in Washington Square.jpg Unknown Henry D. Cogswell 1879
relocated 1904
base: granite
For people Originally located at Market & Kearny Streets. Altered. No longer a fountain.
Nathaniel Wheeler Memorial Fountain Connecticut
BridgeportCT WheelerFountain.jpg Gutzon Borglum 1913 Mermaid: bronze
Basin & 3 horse troughs: granite
For people and horses
Wheeler Memorial Fountain 003.jpg
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
National Humane Alliance Fountain Connecticut
Derby Greenway,
National Humane Alliance Fountain - Derby, CT.jpg 1906
restored 2007
For people, horses and dogs More than 120 National Humane Alliance Fountains were installed in communities across the United States between 1903 and 1913.
Pope Fountain[9]
Albert A. Pope Memorial Fountain
Pope Park,
Lee Lawrie George W. Keller, architect 1913
relocated 1964
For people and horses Includes a bronze portrait medallion of Albert A. Pope.
Dancing Bears Fountain[10]
Children's Fountain
Center Park,
Albert Humphreys Pomponian Bronze Works, foundry 1909 For people
Carrie Welton Fountain[11]
"Horse on The Green"
The Green,
Welton Fountain on Waterbury Green.jpg Karl Gerhardt 1888 Horse: bronze
Base: granite
For people and horses
Waterbury Horse on the Green.jpg
Woman's Christian Temperance Union Fountain (Rehoboth Beach, Delaware) Delaware
Rehoboth Avenue & Boardwalk,
Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth WCTU Fountain (Sussex County, Delaware).jpg 1929 granite For people Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Temperance Fountain (Washington, D.C.)
Cogswell Fountain
District of Columbia
7th Street & Indiana Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, D.C.
Temperance Fountain, Washington, D.C. 2012.JPG Unknown Henry D. Cogswell 1882-84 Sculptures: bronze
Base & canopy: granite
For people and horses
Cogswell Fountain Fish.JPG
Water flowed from the dolphins' mouths.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
U. S. Capitol Grounds Drinking Fountain District of Columbia
United States Capitol Grounds,
Washington, D.C.
Drinking fountain - United States Capitol grounds - DSC09637.JPG Frederick Law Olmsted, architect 1874 For people
Horse Show Fountain
(Wright-Bock Fountain)
Oak Park
Oak Park Il Horse Show Fountain2.jpg Richard Bock Frank Lloyd Wright, architect 1909
replica 1969
Poured concrete For people, horses and dogs The original fountain deteriorated and was used to create a replica. It was erected about 100 ft from the original's site.
Woman's Christian Temperance Union Fountain (Bloomington, Indiana) Indiana
Monroe County Courthouse,
WCTU fountain at the Monroe County Courthouse in good weather.jpg 1913 For people
Murphy Memorial Drinking Fountain Indiana
Carroll County Courthouse,
Murphy Memorial Drinking Fountain with courthouse.JPG Myra Reynolds Richards 1918 Sculpture: bronze
Barre granite
For people
Myra Richards in front of the Murphy Memorial Fountain in Delphi, Indiana, ca 1920.jpg
Richards posing with her sculpture.
Woman's Christian Temperance Union Fountain (Shenandoah, Iowa)[12] Iowa
Clarinda & Sheridan Streets,
1912 cast iron For people, dogs and birds Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Ellis Fountain Kentucky
Old Fayette County Courthouse,
Ellis Fountain - Lexington, Kentucky - DSC09091.JPG William Ingram Lexington Granite Company 1921 Sculptures: bronze
For people and dogs
Gumbel Memorial Fountain Louisiana
Audubon Park,
New Orleans
Audubon Park New Orleans Drinking Horses 3.jpg Isidore Konti 1918 For people, horses and dogs
"The Meeting of Air and Water"
Lotta Fountain
Lotta Crabtree Fountain
The Esplanade,
Lotta Fountain - IMG 3787.jpg Katharine Lane Weems John W. Ames, architect
Edwin Dodge, architect
1939 For people, cats and dogs
Lotta Fountain - IMG 3790.jpg

The fountain was a bequest from actress Lotta Crabtree.
Charles Taft Fountain[13] Massachusetts
Cleveland Circle,
Coolidge & Carleson, architects 1912 For people, horses and dogs
Holyoke City Hall Fountain
Woman's Christian Temperance Union Fountain
Holyoke City Hall
Temperance Fountain, Holyoke City Hall.jpg
1901 Monson granite For people Constructed in October 1901,[14] dedicated November 9, 1901; contains biblical passages and one from Shakespeare's Othello
Kilbon Memorial Fountain[15] Massachusetts
Town Park,
Daniel Chester French 1899 For people and horses Water flows from the mouth of a mask of Konkapot, a Mohican chief.
Belcher Memorial Fountain[16][17] Massachusetts
Northfield Town Hall,
70 Main Street,
Belcher Memorial - Northfield, Massachusetts - DSC07528.JPG Joseph Walker Aberdeen Granite Works 1909
relocated 1960
Quincy granite
Gaslight: cast iron
For people, horses and dogs
Burnside Fountain Massachusetts
Worcester Common,
Burnside Fountain - Worcester, MA - DSC05763.jpg Charles Y. Harvey
(completed by Sherry Fry)
Henry Bacon, architect 1912 For people, horses and dogs
Burnside Fountain - Worcester, MA - DSC05765.jpg
Harvey's Pan-like figure is nicknamed "Turtle Boy."
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Bagley Memorial Fountain Michigan
BagleyMemorialFountainDetroit.jpg Henry Hobson Richardson, architect 1887 For people
Water flows from the lions' mouths.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Merrill Humane Fountain Michigan
Palmer Park,
Merrill Humane Fountain in July 2013 - 14.jpg Carrere & Hastings, architects 1901
relocated 1925
For people, horses and dogs
Merrill Humane Fountain - 4a09029u.jpg
Merrill Humane Fountain in its original location, c. 1906
Miller Memorial Fountain Mississippi
Commerce & Main Streets,
Natchez4Sept2008BankFountainA.jpg 1911 For people, horses and dogs
American Legion Memorial
World War I Memorial
Swope Park,
Kansas City
Merrell Gage G. B. Franklin, architect
Chicago Art Bronze Works, foundry
1921 For people
Jessie Tennille Maschmeyer Memorial Fountain[18]
"Zuni Bird Charmer"
Outside Bird House,
St. Louis Zoo,
St. Louis
Saint Louis Zoo 037.jpg Walker Hancock Roman Bronze Works, foundry 1932 For people. The granite plinth features a life-sized bronze figure of a Zuni bird charmer at center and bubbler at each end.
Cogswell Fountain
Temperance Fountain (Tompkins Square Park)[19]
New York
Tompkins Square Park,
Manhattan, New York City
Temperance Fountain from north.jpg Bertel Thorvaldsen (copy after) Henry D. Cogswell
J. L. Mott Ironworks
1888 For people
Temperance Fountain statue Tompkins Square Park.jpg
Copy of Thorvaldsen's Hebe:
James Fountain
Union Square Drinking Fountain
New York
Union Square Park,
Manhattan, New York City
Union Square Park 05.jpg Karl Adolph Donndorf J. Leonard Corning, architect 1881 For people and dogs Donated by Daniel Willis James and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.[20]
Women's Health Protective Association Fountain New York
Riverside Park at 116th Street,
Manhattan, New York City
Womens Health Protective Assn font 116 jeh.jpg Bruno Zimm 1909 white marble For people Commemorates the 25th anniversary of the association's founding.[21]
Probasco Fountain Ohio
Clifton Avenue,
ProbascoFountain.jpg Samuel Hannaford, architect 1887 For people, horses and dogs Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Woodland Cemetery Drinking Fountain Ohio
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum,
Schevill Karl Bitter Woodland Cemetery drinking fountain.jpg Karl Bitter 1908-09 For people Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Benson Bubbler Oregon
Benson Bubbler.jpg A. E. Doyle, architect 1912 For people Philanthropist Simon Benson initially installed 20 four-bowl drinking fountains.
Portland now features 52 four-bowl Benson Bubblers and 74 single-bowl ones.
David Campbell Monument[22]
Portland Fireman's Memorial
1800 West Burnside Street,
David Campbell Memorial detail - Portland Oregon.jpg Avard Fairbanks Paul Cret, architect 1928 For people, horses and dogs
David Campbell Memorial - Portland Oregon.jpg
An exedra (curved bench) with a drinking fountain at center. It empties into a basin on the opposite side for horses and dogs.
Charles B. Merrick Memorial Drinking Fountain Oregon
NE Sandy Street,
Chas B Merrick Memorial.jpg 1916 For people
Fountain for Company H
Second Oregon Company Volunteers Fountain (Spanish–American War)[23]
Lownsdale Square,
Fountain for Company H, 2015.jpg John H. Beaver 1914 limestone & bronze For people Located near the Spanish–American War Soldier's Monument
Pioneer Woman[24]
Laberee Memorial Fountain
Council Crest Park,
Frederic Littman 1956 Sculpture: bronze
Base: granite
For people
Portland Central Library Fountain Oregon
801 SW 10th Avenue,
Portland Central Library, Oregon (2012) - 169.JPG A. E. Doyle, architect 1913 Wilkinson sandstone For people
Central Library (Portland, Oregon).jpg
Fountain is right of center:
Shemanski Fountain Oregon
South Park Blocks,
Shemanski Fountain, Portland (2013) - 2.jpg Oliver Laurence Barrett Carl L. Linde, architect 1925-26
For people and dogs
Shemanski Fountain, Portland (2013) - 3.jpg
Barrett's figure of "Rebecca at the Well" was added in 1928.
Skidmore Fountain Oregon
SW First & Ankeny Streets,
Skidmore Fountain - New Market Block PDX 2007.08.jpg Olin Levi Warner J. M. Wells, architect 1888 Top basin & caryatids: bronze
Lower basin & horse troughs: granite
For people, horses and dogs
Drinking trough on northwest side of Skidmore Fountain.jpg
The octagonal basin spills into 4 water troughs for horses and dogs.
Thompson Fountain Oregon
Plaza Blocks,
4th Avenue & Main Street,
Thompson Elk, Plaza Block, Portland, OR.JPG Roland Hinton Perry H. G. Wright, architect 1900 Sculpture: bronze
Basin & water troughs: Barre granite
For people, horses and dogs
D.P. Thompson's Gift to Portland.jpg
Hebe Fountain
Woman's Christian Temperance Union Fountain
Eagles Park,
Lane & Jackson Streets,
Roseburg, Oregon - Hebe Fountain 01.jpg Bertel Thorvaldsen (copy after) J. L. Mott Ironworks 1908
2002 (replica)
cast iron For people, horses and dogs The original Hebe fountain was damaged in a 1912 accident and removed. The replica fountain, cast from the same molds, was erected in 2002.
Class of 1892 Fountain[25]
"The Scholar and the Football Player"
Quadrangle Dormitories,
University of Pennsylvania,
Alexander Stirling Calder Bureau Brothers, foundry 1900 For people
Annie L. Lowry Memorial Fountain Pennsylvania
Bainbridge Street median strip at 3rd Street
1910 For horses and dogs "Drink Gentle Friends"
Erected by the Women's Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Mary Rebecca Darby Smith Memorial Fountain
Rebecca at the Well
Horticultural Drive, West Fairmount Park
Rebecca Well Hort Center Philly.JPG John J. Boyle 1908
relocated 1934
For people
Originally, for people, horses and dogs
"Drink, and I will give thy Camels Drink also."
Originally installed on the Spring Garden Street median strip at 12th Street.
Relocated to West Fairmount Park, 1934.
Temperance Fountain (Philadelphia) Pennsylvania
Sons of Temperance Fountain Philadelphia 1961.jpg 1876
Relocated 1877
Removed to storage 1969
For people
Ingram Centennial Exposition p.681.jpg
Under a 13-sided gazebo at the 1876 Centennial Exposition.
Erected by the Grand Division of the Sons of Temperance. Cost: $2,300
Installed outside Independence Hall, 1877-1969
J. William White Memorial Drinking Fountain Pennsylvania
Rittenhouse Square,
Rittenhouse Square - autumn - IMG 6548.JPG R. Tait McKenzie 1921 For people
J William White Memorial (closeup).png
Portrait medallion of J. William White (1919).
Fireman's Drinking Fountain Pennsylvania
Main Street,
Fireman's Drinking Fountain 01.JPG Caspar Buberl J. W. Fiske & Company 1909 Sculpture: zinc
Base: cast iron
For people and dogs Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
Sterne Fountain[26]
Hebe, Goddess of Youth
Lafayette & Market Streets,
Sterne Fountain.JPG Giuseppe Moretti J. L. Mott, foundry 1913 Sculpture: bronze
Base: cast iron
For people, horses and dogs
Pin Oak Fountain[27] West Virginia
WV Rte. 29 & Falconwood Road,
Pin Oak
Pin Oak Fountain Pin Oak WV 2008 10 12 06.jpg Roy Keister, head mason 1932 crystal quartz For people and horses 2 basins and a horse trough, fed by gravity from a spring uphill of the fountain
R. D. Whitehead Monument[28] Wisconsin
16th & Pearl Streets,
RDWhiteheadMonument1910.jpg Sigvald Asbjornsen 1910 Sculpture: bronze
Pier & basin: granite
For horses and dogs The bas-relief panel depicts Whitehead's horse "George" and dog "Dandy." The watering trough is now used as a planter.
NOTE: some entries in this table overlap the entries in Drinking fountains in Philadelphia. Neither table is an exhaustive list.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lee, Russell (July 1939). "Negro drinking at "Colored" water cooler in streetcar terminal, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma". Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Library of Congress Home. Retrieved March 23, 2005.
  2. ^ Archambault, Anna Margaretta (1924). A Guide Book of Art, Architecture, and Historic Interests in Pennsylvania. John C. Winston Company. p. 105. Archived from the original on September 26, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Scharf, John Thomas; Westcott, Thompson (1884). History of Philadelphia, 1609–1884. L. H. Everts & Company.
  4. ^ McShane, Clay (2007). The horse in the city : living machines in the nineteenth century. Tarr, Joel A. (Joel Arthur), 1934-. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-4356-9264-0. OCLC 503446031 – via Project MUSE.
  5. ^ "Letter from Philadelphia". Tunkhannock Republican. 9 September 1869. Archived from the original on September 26, 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Hahn, Ashley (2013-05-29). "Curbside refreshment for man and beast". WHYY-FM. Archived from the original on September 16, 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  7. ^ WCTU Drinking Fountains – Then and Now Archived 2011-10-14 at the Wayback Machine, from Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
  8. ^ "Sons of Temperance Fountain" (PDF). Historic American Buildings Survey. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  9. ^ Colonel Pope Fountain, from Hartford Signs.
  10. ^ Dancing Bears Fountain, from Manchester Historical Society.
  11. ^ Carrie Welton Fountain, from SIRIS.
  12. ^ WCTU Fountain, Shenandoah, from Bleeding Heartland.
  13. ^ Charles Taft Fountain, Boston Architectural Club Yearbook, 1912, p. 12.
  14. ^ "Will Have Expert from Boston". Springfield Republican. Springfield, Mass. October 9, 1901. p. 8. The board [of public works] will begin to excavate this morning on the city hall lawn in preparation for the drinking fountain that has been given by the Woman's Christian temperance union
  15. ^ Daniel Chester French, from Town of Lee, Massachusetts.
  16. ^ Belcher Memorial Fountain, from SIRIS.
  17. ^ Belcher Memorial Fountain, from Arthur Percy Fitt, All About Northfield (1910).
  18. ^ Zuni Bird Charmer, from SIRIS.
  19. ^ Tompkins Square Park Temperance Fountain, from NYC Parks.
  20. ^ Union Square Drinking Fountain, from NYC Parks.
  21. ^ "Riverside Park". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  22. ^ David Campbell Monument, from SIRIS.
  23. ^ Second Oregon Company Volunteers, from SIRIS.
  24. ^ Joy (Pioneer Woman), from Public Art Archive.
  25. ^ Class of '92 Fountain, from University of Pennsylvania.
  26. ^ Sterne Fountain, from SIRIS.
  27. ^ Pin Oak Fountain, from National Park Service.
  28. ^ R. D. Whitehead Monument, from SIRIS.


  1. ^ Phurisamban, Rapichan. "Drinking Fountains and Public Health" (PDF). http://pacinst.org. pacific institute. External link in |website= (help)