Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ira's Fountain

Right outside my office is Keller Auditorium - the best theater in town to catch a Broadway show, opera, or other culture event. And right across from Keller Auditorium is Keller Fountain (aka Ira's Fountain), one of the coolest little spots in this whole city.

If you look up 'urban serenity' in the dictionary, you find this picture.

I'll spare you the history lesson about the fountain - go here if you'd like to know more about it.

I love this fountain and the way it fits seamlessly in the urban community. I often get lunch from a teriyaki food cart that sets up shop in the park for a few hours each weekday; sitting down to eat, it always feels like a community gathering. If you go up a sidewalk on either side of the fountain, you'll see there's a nice park space where the fountain water is pumped into creeks that run under the sidewalks. It's a really cool effect. The way the park is set up, you can only see the actual fountains from the front end - anywhere else and it just looks like a typical park. Not to mention that the architecture is stunning...right down to the dedication plate:

But you see, there's one problem with the fountains. I took the above pics at 6:30 this morning. Because if you go there at any other time, it looks like this:

On an average summer afternoon, there are at least 100 people hangin' out at Ira's. I didn't dare take a closer picture of the park, because there are just too many bikini-clad ladies, pot-smokin' hippies, beer cans, guitar-pickin' folk-song writers, panhandlers, and unsupervised kids. It's a messy throng of humanity. And what's with that guy reading a book on that friggin' ledge!!! It's a 25-foot drop! "Don't jump bro, there are people who can help! I've got a prozac... right... here!"

All of this despite a warning at every park entrance that the fountain is NOT intended for wading. Oops. I guess the city decided they couldn't keep the crowds out, so they chlorinate the water instead.

Well, at least some people still view the hippie crowds as art:

Sketch by Jason Das from Urban Sketches

p.s. A few weeks ago, someone dumped a whole gallon of Dove soap in the fountain. As humorous and juvenile as that is (not to mention shutting off the fountain for a day) it was actually quite pretty seeing bubbles EVERYWHERE. Kind of Willy Wonka-ish.


  1. Wow. Interesting view of life. Very sad to see something that is so beautiful treated with such little respect. I always like to see the sights of where other people live around the globe--thanks for sharing a slice of life from your neck of the woods!

  2. Wow, those are beautiful! Off to read the history....