Saturday, August 30, 2008

Help Me Locate All Seattle's Vintage Drinking Fountains & Their History


Copyright 2008 Seattle Daily Photo. All rights reserved, including reproduction or republishing.

I have noticed these dark green cast iron drinking fountains all over Seattle. I've stumbled upon about 10 to 12 of them so far, and have photographed 5. I wish to document them all. I have attempted to find out their history, but aside from some archival photos of a few from 1930, I can find no information on when they were adopted for use, if they were a municipal project or started by a community or philanthropic organization. They are apparently maintained by the city's facilities department, as there is a photo of new unpainted ones in their warehouse. If you've spotted one in your neighborhood, know the manufacturer, when they were first installed in Seattle, or who was behind their widespread placement, please let me know. I took this photo of the one on S. Rainier Ave. in the Columbia City neighborhood.

15 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

Interesting the way you handled this photo and then I read your comment with it and you said, "I've stumbled..."

Virginia said...

That's a good one Abe. I was going to ask what kind of effect you used. It seems to be perfect for this subject.

Day4plus said...

I remember those drinking fountains. They seems to be mostly in downtown seattle. But I know nothing about them. MB

Marcel said...

Kim as always a very nice photo. I wish I could tell you the history.

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Anonymous said...

Contact the people at Historylink. I think the website is www.historylink.org They have an amazing amount of knowledge.

Kim said...

Anon, I've checked several times before making this post, and History Link doesn't have any searchable info on these. That's why I'm putting out feelers to anyone in the community who might be knowledgeable on origins, where to find more information and helping me map all the locations. Possibly the Public Utilities office can provide further information.
-Kim

Katie said...

I can't help with your search, but I sure like this photo! Such a beautiful water fountain! On the East Coast a lot of people call these "bubblers" which cracks me up.

USelaine said...

Yeah, I'd ask the city department that maintains them. Or the local Research Librarian. Historical Societies are often loaded with such facts too. It will turn up.

USelaine said...

Sorry, back again. Some promising looking resources are here.

Mame said...

Beautiful photo. Bubblers are the water coolers that bubble when you let water out and air goes in. But I guess some people may refer to any water fountain as a bubbler. Every time I say bubbler in NYC people look at me like I have three heads. Not sure where I picked it up. Probably from living Raymond Chandler books as a teenager.

Kim said...

Yes Katie and Mame, Portland has Bubblers, and features them in the header of their water department's webpage. . .Portland takes pride in its fountains of all kinds and displays them and their histories prominently. Seattle seemingly hasn't embraced its fountains as ardently as the city to the south striding the banks of the Willamette. ;^) Thank you US Elaine.
-Kim

trellis said...

@katie, @mame, @kim - I heard the term "bubbler" in Rhode Island and my head just about exploded. It sounds funny with a thick R.I. accent.

Mikala (Rainier Valley Historical Society) said...

I am 99% sure the one in Columbia City was installed in the '70s (along with the brick sidewalks, clock, and gas lamp streetlights) when the historic district was established. All of these things were replicas (or leftovers, I'm not sure) of items from downtown Seattle's early days...

The Seattle Municipal Archives will have some info -- they seem to have pictures, anyway. Go here and search for "fountain"
http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~public/phot1.htm

The people at MOHAI may know something too (www.seattlehistory.org.

Good luck!

Becky said...

This is so awesome! Those drinking fountains are beautiful and what an idea for a photo series. I can't wait to see more.

Manuel W. said...

There's one in West Seattle at the Junction

http://www.flickr.com/photos/manwhoyells/3124595684/in/photostream/

here at the end
http://vimeo.com/2589310