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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.

 

Other Resources

Friends of Philadelphia Parks