Carved from Italian marble by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1912 to detail the history of the United States of America, the Columbus Memorial Fountain is a must-see for its architectural design and symbolism. Centrally located in the city at Union Station, it is a symbol to all those who enter the Nation's Capital. Memorializing Christopher Columbus himself, the fountain reminds visitors of the beginnings of our country.
As the first explorer to travel across the Atlantic Ocean from Italy, Christopher Columbus was highly influential in history for discovering a path of travel to the Americas. Coming to the New World on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus first landed in the Bahamas, Haiti, and Cuba. After traveling back to Italy in 1493 to spread the news of his discovery throughout Europe, Columbus made three more journies across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World. During this time, he created the Columbian Exchange, exporting goods between the Old World and the New World to further establish permanent colonies in the New World.
Today, the Columbus Memorial Fountain is visited by millions of tourists who visit Washington, D.C. Its location in the heart of the city allows visitors to view many iconic landmarks, including the Capitol Building and Columbus Circle.
Commissioned in May 1907 by the Senate, the fountain was given a budget of $100,000 to complete. A design contest was announced, and sculptors from the United States, Spain, and Italy submitted their designs to be voted on by the Commission Committee. After sculptor Lorado Taft won the contest in 1908, work began on the fountain. In 1911, the completion of the Columbus Memorial Fountain was marked with a three-day parade around Washington D.C. dedicated to Christopher Columbus. Although the Columbus Memorial Fountain is the first public location that travelers see when they enter Washington D.C. from Union Station, most don't realize it is a fountain because the plumbing system has been inoperative for over a decade. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1968, Columbus Fountain is awaiting a $10 million restoration.
Cover image by Gary Todd, Flickr Images.