Fifth and Vine in the middle of downtown in Cincinnati – the Tyler Davidson Fountain, the city's symbol. It was dedicated in 1871 – the centerpiece of Fountain Square, and its proper name is The Genius of Water. You get your nine-foot tall bronze statue of a woman with outstretched hands, and water flows from them. At the base you get smaller human figures representing the practical uses of water, and four outer figures with animals, representing the pleasures of water. Panels on its lower part depict the industrial uses of water. For a visitor from arid Los Angeles, where water is something you steal from elsewhere, or buy from other states, this is all very odd.
But here it is – forty-three feet tall, twenty-four tons of bronze and eighty-five tons of granite, with five hundred gallons of water flowing through it every minute. Of course this isn't Los Angeles – they turn it off each winter, and turn it on again in April for the first home game of the Reds.
As for its history, after the death of his brother-in-law and business partner Tyler Davidson, Cincinnati businessman Henry Probasco went to Munich in his search for a suitable memorial to him. He went to look up August von Kreling, who had collaborated with Ferdinand von Miller at the Royal Bronze Foundry of Bavaria to design a fountain to rival the great fountains of Europe – but one that was all about mankind, not gods and mythical nonsense. They never found a sponsor for that, but then this man from Cincinnati showed up, with the funds, and requested only minor changes. Fine – the fountain was cast in separate sections at the foundry in Bavaria and shipped to Cincinnati for assembly.
And here it is now – recently restored. It looks much as it did in the opening credits of the old television sit-com, WKRP in Cincinnati.