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Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains. Why? Kansas City has more fountains than any other city in the world, except maybe Rome. The exact number of fountains is not known as new public and private fountains are added regularly. But, the City of Fountains Foundation, which keeps the only known database of Kansas City fountains at www.kcfountains.org, currently lists more than 200 fountains that flow in Kansas City.
Kansas City's love affair with fountains may have to do with the importance of water to the city's development. The city is located where the Kansas City and Missouri rivers meet and many arrived in Kansas City by steamboat to begin their overland journeys west. Water, or the abilitiy to get over it, was also important in the city's growth. Kansas City was the first city to build a railroad bridge over the Missouri River (the Hannibal bridge in 1869), ensuring that Kansas City would become the major city in the region.
The city's first fountains date back to the late 1800s and had a purely practical purpose. They were erected over springs by the Humane Society to provide clean drinking water for animals (In 1910, the horse population of Kansas City was estimated at 70,000!). Over the years, Kansas City's fountains have become a cherished public art form, erupting with magnificient symphonies of water, light and sculpture. In fact, as early as 1898, the public's interest in fountains had grown to such a degree that Kansas City Wire and Iron Works was listed in the city directory under "Fountains."
Today, it's sort of an unwritten policy that a fountain of some fashion be incorporated into the design of major new public or commercial building projects. Many projects now under construction have taken this to heart including a $1 million fountain in the Power & Light District, a water feature in the public art installation outside the Sprint Center arena and a fountain that operates year-round at The Legends at Village West.
Kansas City's fountains come to life each year on Greater Kansas City Day (the day of the Kansas City Royals home opener).