The Grace and Beauty of Swann Memorial Fountain

The Swann Memorial Water Fountain is a sculpture fountain and is regarded as the best fountain in the United States. It is located in the center of Logan Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is surrounded by Logan's Circle.

swann memorial fountain

Originally known as the Fountain of Three Rivers, the Swann Memorial Fountain was built in memory of Dr. Wilson Cary Swann. He was the founder and late president of the Philadelphia Fountain Society.

The fountain was a collaboration between sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder and architect Wilson Eyre. Since its opening day in 1924, it has become and remained a focal point of downtown Philadelphia. Its design features include a trio of Native American statues which symbolize the Schuylkill river, the Wissahickon Creek and the Delaware River.

The Schuylkill River is represented by an older woman holding the neck of a swan. The Wissahickon Creek is symbolized by a young girl who is resting her head on a swan that is spouting water. The Delaware River is represented by a man reaching for his bow while a large fish splashes water over him. At the fountain basin, a sculpted water spouting turtles and frogs can also be seen as they surround the central jet of the fountain.

The central jet is built with the capacity of shooting water as high as 50 feet in the air. However, the setting is usually at 25 feet which causes the passing traffic not to receive an unexpected shower.

The water found within the fountain gets filtered regularly and changed as often as twice a month. During this stage, the fountain is drained, cleaned and refilled.

The original structure was designed to have only a single pump and was placed underground along the left side of Logan's Circle. As a result, doing maintenance work had been extremely difficult. When a light has burned out or there's a nozzle that needs replacement, the whole fountain must be drained. Frequent plumbing problems led to numerous digging of the entire square. In 1993, the Swann Memorial Fountain was rebuilt with the tunnels placed underneath it which made the area easier to clean and repair.

The Swann Memorial Fountain is one of the numerous artistic and historic attractions that draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the City of Brotherly Love every year. Its unique vision and artistry is indeed a tribute to American innovation and technology.