Columbus Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, April 17, 2003


Finally, after a 17 month hiatus, Parks fountains are flowing! Yesterday, in a carefully timed, cross-borough event, six Parks & Recreation fountains were simultaneously turned-on, signaling the beginning of the spring and summer seasons in parks. The fountain festivities were kicked off downtown, where Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Christopher O. Ward, and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe turned on City Hall Park’s historic fountain. They were joined by students from Stuyvesant High School and parks officials including Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Liam Kavanagh, Borough Commissioner Bill Castro, and Manhattan Borough Chief of Operations, Nam Yoon.

At the same time as City Hall Park’s fountain was turned on, a parks fountain in each borough was also turned on. In the Bronx, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski turned on the Heinrich Heine Memorial Fountain in Joyce Kilmer Park. In Brooklyn’s Columbus Park, Borough President Marty Markowitz joined Brooklyn Parks & Recreation Commissioner Julius Spiegel, children from the Innovative Learning Center and the Brownsville Recreation Center Ed-u-tots program, and other community members to turn on its fountain. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall teamed up with Council Member James Genarro, Queens Parks & Recreation Commissioner Richard Murphy, Flushing Meadows Corona Park Administrator Estelle Cooper, and students from P.S. 150 to turn on the Unisphere. In Staten Island, Deputy Borough President Dan Donovan, Staten Island Parks & Recreation Commissioner Thomas Paulo, local students, and elected officials joined Neptune and his mermaid sidekick to turn on the South Beach Dolphin Fountain. Finally, in Manhattan, (in addition to the City Hall Park fountain), Central Park’s Bethesda fountain was brought to life, while, nearby Parks & Recreation Special Events staff readied the terrace for this weekend’s Starburst Jellybeans Easter Eggstravaganza celebration.

Yesterday’s simultaneous events were not without historical precedent. In 1842, fountains at City Hall Park and Union Square were simultaneously turned on to celebrate the completion of the Croton Aqueduct. One excited on-looker, Lydia Maria Child (who later penned the sleighing verse "over the river and through the woods") wrote, of the event, "I shall never forget my sensations when I first looked upon the Fountains. My soul jumped, and clapped its hands, rejoicing in the exceeding beauty…those accustomed to the splendid displays of France and Italy say the world offers nothing to equal the magnificence of the New-York jets." Commissioner Benepe expressed a similar fondness for fountains when he described the beauty of fountains to the crowds gathered at City Hall Park, saying, "Fountains cool the air by humidifying it, add beauty to our city’s landscape, and relax passersby with a white noise that is the most tranquil sound in nature."

Last summer, New York’s fountains were turned off during the City’s drought restrictions. Although most of Parks’ fountains recycle water by recirculating it, the fountains were turned off as a symbolic gesture, to remind New Yorkers to conserve water. This season, no such reminders are necessary and over the next week, ornamental fountains in parks all over the city will spring back to life, once again giving New Yorkers spectacular backdrops for their photographs and cool, soothing places to sit on hot summer days.

Written by Hannah Gersen


"Wit is the only wall
Between us and the dark."

Mark Van Doren

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