The Meyer Circle Seahorse Fountain is one of Kansas City's most impressive sculptural fountains, featuring a 300-year-old, 30-foot high Venetian carving with mythological seahorses. If it sounds familiar, perhaps you've already spotted it while exploring the city. It's located in the median of the Ward Parkway at the intersection with Meyer Boulevard, and an estimated 40,000 vehicles drive past it each day.
The central sculpture was created in Italy in the 1700s, and purchased in Venice in the 1920s by J.C. Nichols, the KC businessman best known for redeveloping KC's Country Club District. He purchased the sculpture to install on a stone pyramid base surrounded by an 80-foot pool. The large lower saucer is held up by three sea-horses or hippocampi, creatures with horse bodies and fishtails, which were associated with the sea god Poseidon in classical mythology and show up in many sculptural fountains such as the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome. The upper level features a second saucer and sculptures of a fish and a cherub, a type of angel from Judeo-Christian mythology.
In 2015, the fountain was taken out of commission; the jets were no longer working due to repeated flooding of the compartment containing the electrical components. Locals considered the loss of such a visible fountain an embarrassment to the "City of Fountains" and quickly raised funds for a renovation.
The newly-functional fountain was rededicated in 2017, as shown in the following news story:
Cover image by Jason Cupp is licensed under CC BY 2.0.