Logan Circle/Swann Memorial Fountain
What we know today as Logan Circle, was once a large city square. Logan
Square was one of William Penn's five original squares in his layout of
Philadelphia. Construction of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the 1920s
reduced the area to a traffic circle. Designed by French architect Jacques
Griber, Logan Circle was intended to have a large space for a monument
surrounded by lush gardens.
Logan square has a spooky history, as it was once a burial ground and
public execution site. On February 7, 1823, the final public execution
on the square too place when William Gross was hanged. By the mid 1820s,
Logan Square was being transformed into a residential area with trees,
gardens, and walking paths.
The Swann Memorial Fountain, also known as the Fountain of the Three
Rivers, is named for Dr. Wilson Cary Swann, founder of the Philadelphia
Fountain Society. It was designed by sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder
and opened in 1924. The three Native American statues represent the Schuylkill
River, the Delaware River, and the Wissahickon Creek.
The center geyser was designed shoot more than 50 feet in the air, but
it's normally set to about 25 feet because the wind would blow the water
out of the fountain and into traffic. On very windy days, the center geyser
must be lowered even more.
The fountain utilizes three main pumps. The water is filtered and recirculated
for about two weeks, then it's drained, cleaned, and refilled.
When the Fountain was built, a small pump room was located underground
on the south side of the circle. All pipes and wiring was buried in the
ground, making maintenance difficult. If an element in one of the accent
lights burned out, the fountain had to be drained in order to replace
it. If a water pipe needed repairs, excavation was necessary. In 1993,
the fountain was rebuilt, this time incorporating a network of tunnels
running directly underneath, providing easy access to underwater lighting
fixtures, water pipes, and electrical wiring. Now a lighting element can
be changed in a matter of minutes while the fountain continues to operate.
Friends of Philadelphia Parks