Chicago, the third most populous city in the USA, is known by a number of names, among which include "the Windy City", "Second City" and "City of Big Shoulders". While it may possess the image of a bustling, busy urban center, it is possible to get away from the rat race yet still remain in the city. Presently, Chicago possesses over 7,300 acres of parkland which encloses 552 parks, 16 lagoons and Chicago's iconic Buckingham Fountain, one of the world's largest fountains.
Located in Grant Park, the Buckingham Fountain was dedicated to the people of Chicago in 1927, in memory of Clarence Buckingham who commissioned its creation. Clarence Buckingham was the late brother of Kate Buckingham, who worked tirelessly to build a fountain which created the effect of "soft moonlight"; she tested a variety of colors for glass filters and various water currents in order to bestow a mystical, ethereal feel upon the Buckingham Fountain. While the fountain was named after Clarence Buckingham, it was originally designed by Edward H. Bennett, who modeled his design on the Latona Fountain in King Louis XIV's gardens at the Palace of Versailles. Bennett intended the fountain to represent Lake Michigan, with four sea horses created by Marcel Loyau to signify the four states that border the Lake - Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Today, the fountain is a brilliant draw for tourists; it's turned on every April, signaling the onset of summer in Chicago, and remains on until early Fall. It still puts on spectacular 20-minute fountain displays every hour between 8am and 11pm. Each display involves 134 jets shooting approximately 14,100 gallons of water out per minute, with the center jet shooting 150 feet in the air. This show is accompanied by a spectacular light and music display, which beautifully accentuates the Georgian pink marble structure of the attraction.
The area surrounding the Buckingham Fountain is teeming with pond life, including frogs, herons and dragonflies; the shrubs are frequently filled with migratory birds and the lush prairie region is graced with wildflowers and grasses native to the area. The Park District of Chicago is clearly a wonderful place to visit if you're staying in the city, and is located within easy distance from Chicago's other main attractions such as the Sears tower and the Merchandise Mart Mall. There are a selection of great hotels nearby, in which you can stay and be able to take in Chicago's peaceful park district whilst enjoying the luxuries of the big city, including the world-famous luxury Conrad Hotel.