The Swann Memorial Fountain is a prominent fountain located in Logan Square, Philadelphia, USA. It was designed by the renowned American sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder in 1915 and completed in 1924. The fountain was commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association in memory of Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, a distinguished physician and humanitarian who was also a prominent citizen of Philadelphia.
The Swann Memorial Fountain is a large, three-tiered fountain that features several sculptures and ornate decorations. At the top of the fountain, there is a large bronze statue of a woman representing the city of Philadelphia, holding a wreath of flowers and a scroll. Surrounding her are several allegorical figures representing the Delaware, Schuylkill, and Wissahickon Rivers, which are the major waterways that flow through the city.
The fountain is set within a large circular basin, which is surrounded by a plaza and several benches where visitors can sit and enjoy the fountain. The fountain's water jets shoot water up into the air, creating a beautiful display that is especially stunning at night when the fountain is illuminated.
Over the years, the Swann Memorial Fountain has become an iconic symbol of Philadelphia and a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. It is also a significant piece of public art that celebrates the city's history and culture, and serves as a testament to the artistic achievements of Alexander Stirling Calder.
Top Tourist Attractions
- Independence Hall: This historic building is where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed. Visitors can take a guided tour of the building and see the famous Liberty Bell.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art: This world-renowned museum features a vast collection of art from around the world, including works by famous artists like Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. The museum is also famous for its "Rocky Steps," which were featured in the movie "Rocky."
- Reading Terminal Market: This bustling indoor market is a foodie's paradise, featuring dozens of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses to classic Philly cheesesteaks.
- Franklin Institute: This hands-on science museum is a great place for families to learn about science and technology through interactive exhibits and displays.
- Fairmount Park: This enormous park covers over 2,000 acres and features numerous trails, gardens, and historic landmarks. It's a great place to enjoy the outdoors and escape the city's hustle and bustle.
These are just a few of the many attractions that make Philadelphia such a fascinating and exciting place to visit.
The Swann Memorial Fountain is not only a beautiful work of art, but it also has an interesting history. Here are some historical facts about the fountain:
- The fountain was commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association in memory of Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, a prominent Philadelphia physician and philanthropist who died in 1903.
- The fountain was designed by Alexander Stirling Calder, who was also responsible for designing the sculpture on top of Philadelphia's City Hall.
- The fountain was originally supposed to be located in Rittenhouse Square, but the plans were changed due to concerns about the impact of the fountain on the park's trees.
- The fountain's construction was delayed by several years due to World War I, which caused a shortage of materials and manpower.
- The fountain was finally completed in 1924, and it was dedicated in a ceremony attended by thousands of people.
- Over the years, the fountain has been the site of several high-profile events, including speeches by U.S. presidents and concerts by famous musicians.
- In 2005, the fountain underwent a major restoration to repair damage caused by years of exposure to the elements. The restoration project included cleaning and repairing the fountain's sculptures, as well as upgrading the fountain's mechanical systems.
Today, the Swann Memorial Fountain remains an important landmark in Philadelphia and a testament to the city's artistic and cultural heritage.
The Swann Memorial Fountain was created by the American sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, who was commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association to design the fountain in memory of Dr. Wilson Cary Swann. Here is a brief overview of the creation of the Swann Memorial Fountain:
- Design Phase: Calder began working on the design for the fountain in 1915. He proposed a three-tiered fountain with a large central statue of a woman representing Philadelphia, surrounded by several allegorical figures representing the city's major waterways.
- Model Phase: After completing the initial design, Calder created a small-scale model of the fountain to help refine his ideas and present them to the commission. He then created a full-scale clay model of the fountain, which was used to cast the bronze sculptures.
- Casting Phase: The sculptures were cast using the lost-wax casting method, which involves creating a wax model of the sculpture, coating it in plaster, and then melting the wax out of the plaster mold. The mold is then filled with molten bronze, which solidifies to form the sculpture.
- Installation Phase: The fountain was installed in Logan Square, Philadelphia, in 1924, after several years of delays due to World War I.
- Restoration Phase: In 2005, the Swann Memorial Fountain underwent a major restoration, which involved cleaning and repairing the bronze sculptures and upgrading the fountain's mechanical systems to improve its operation.
Swimming in the Swann Memorial Fountain is not allowed and is actually illegal. The fountain is a work of art and a public space, and it's designed to be enjoyed visually, not as a swimming pool. In addition, swimming in the fountain can be dangerous, as the water can be deep and the fountain's mechanical systems can create strong currents and water jets.
Despite the prohibition, some people have attempted to swim in the fountain in the past, either as a prank or as a way to cool off on hot days. However, doing so is considered a violation of Philadelphia city law and can result in a fine.
The Swann Memorial Fountain is a public space that should be respected and enjoyed responsibly. Visitors are encouraged to admire the beauty of the fountain from a safe distance and to follow the rules and regulations in place to protect both the fountain and its visitors.
Connections to nearby sculptures
The Swann Memorial Fountain is located in Logan Square, which is also home to several other notable sculptures and landmarks. Here are a few connections between the Swann Memorial Fountain and nearby sculptures:
- The Fountain of Three Rivers: Located just north of the Swann Memorial Fountain, the Fountain of Three Rivers is a large sculpture that depicts three allegorical figures representing the Schuylkill, Delaware, and Wissahickon Rivers. Both the Fountain of Three Rivers and the Swann Memorial Fountain were commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association and designed by Alexander Stirling Calder.
- The All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors: Located on the east side of Logan Square, the All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors is a bronze sculpture that honors the contributions of African American soldiers and sailors in the United States military. The memorial was created by artist J. Otto Schweizer and unveiled in 1934.
- The Shakespeare Memorial: Located on the west side of Logan Square, the Shakespeare Memorial is a bronze statue of William Shakespeare that was created by Alexander Stirling Calder in 1926. The statue is surrounded by four smaller sculptures that represent characters from Shakespeare's plays: Lady Macbeth, Hamlet, Falstaff, and Prince Hal.
Together, these sculptures and landmarks make Logan Square a unique and fascinating destination for visitors to Philadelphia.
The Swann Memorial Fountain is surrounded by beautiful greenery and vegetation, which adds to the overall beauty of the park and enhances the visitor's experience. Here are a few examples of the nearby vegetation around the fountain:
- Trees: There are many trees in and around Logan Square, including oak, maple, and elm trees. These trees provide shade and create a peaceful atmosphere that visitors can enjoy while admiring the fountain.
- Shrubs and flowers: Logan Square is also home to a variety of shrubs and flowers, including azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas. These plants add color and texture to the park and provide a beautiful backdrop for the fountain.
- Lawn: The lawn surrounding the Swann Memorial Fountain is well-maintained and provides a comfortable place for visitors to relax and enjoy the park. It's a popular spot for picnics, sunbathing, and other outdoor activities.
The vegetation around the Swann Memorial Fountain is an important part of the park's ecosystem and helps to create a welcoming and peaceful environment for visitors. It's also an important habitat for wildlife, including birds and insects, and helps to promote biodiversity in the heart of Philadelphia.
Depictions in music
- "Philadelphia, Here I Come" by Bing Crosby: This 1940s song references the Swann Memorial Fountain in its lyrics, which describe the singer's fond memories of Philadelphia.
- "An American in Paris" by George Gershwin: This famous orchestral composition includes a section that is intended to evoke the sound of the Swann Memorial Fountain's water jets.
- "Logan Circle" by The Wonder Years: This song by the Philadelphia-based pop-punk band The Wonder Years references Logan Square and the Swann Memorial Fountain in its lyrics, which describe the band's experiences growing up in the city.
- "The Legend of the Swann Fountain" by Todd Rundgren: This song, which appears on Todd Rundgren's album "Healing" (1981), tells the story of a mythical creature that lives in the Swann Memorial Fountain.
These are just a few examples of the many ways in which the Swann Memorial Fountain has been celebrated and referenced in popular music over the years.