Of the 200 fountains in Kansas City, the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain in the Country Club District is the most famous and most photographed. It's also one of KC's most recognizable landmarks, so if you want to take a selfie that lets your friends know where you are, this is the place to do it. Built in 1960, the fountain features four dramatic sculptures of men on horses fighting alligators, and four smaller sculptures of children riding fish, all of which date back to 1910. The horsemen are said to represent four great rivers: the Mississippi, Volga, Seine, and Rheine.
The fountain is part of Mill Creek Park, a popular greenway that features other sculptures and a Civil War cannon. It's also near Country Club Plaza, one of the city's favorite shopping centers. The park is free and open to all ages.
The fountain is named after J.C. Nichols, a real estate developer best known for turning the Country Club District into an upscale residential and commercial neighborhood over the course of several projects from the 1900s–1950s. French sculptor Henri Greber created the sculptures in 1910 for the Long Island, NY mansion of financier Clarence Mackay, who passed away in 1938. During the Great Depression, the sculptures were neglected and damaged by vandals.
In 1951, the Nichols family purchased three of the sculptures and moved them to KC. The fourth fish rider had already been purchased by a neighbor of Mackay who moved to Florida. A local artist refurbished the sculptures, and the fountain was dedicated in 1961 with just three fish riders. When the fountain was restored in 2014, the restorers tracked down and installed the fourth sculpture, bringing the ensemble back together after nearly 80 years of separation.
Cover image by Rodney T is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0