Bartholdi Fountain
The Bartholdi Fountain is a monumental public fountain
A fountain is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect....

, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who later created the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886...

. The fountain was originally made for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and is now located at the corner of Independence Avenue and First Street, SW, in the United States Botanic Garden
United States Botanic Garden
The United States Botanic Garden is a botanic garden on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., near Garfield Circle....

, on the grounds of the United States Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

, in Washington D.C..


The Bartholdi fountain was created for the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition which celebrated the 100th birthday of the United States. It was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and it was cast by the Durenne foundry in France, which had won awards for its cast-iron fountains at earlier international expositions in 1862, 1867 and 1873. Bartholdi offered the fountain to the Exposition for free; he expected to sell it afterwards, and to sell others of the same design to other cities. The fountains stood at the center of the esplendade, near the main entrance to the exposition.

The fountain was composed of a series of vasques, or basins, supported by sculptures of classical figures. The cast iron was coated with bronze, stood thirty feet high, and weighted thirty thousand pounds. It was placed in the center of a large circular stone pool. Three figures of women, standing on a triangle pedestal with an ornamental design of seas shells and three reptiles spouting water, supported the lower cast iron vasque, which was adorned with a circle of twelve gas lamps. In the center of this vasque, three titans
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

supported another, smaller and higher vasque. Water spouted from a crown into this basin, cascaded down into the lower vasque,a and then down into the lower basin. The cascade was illuminated by the gas lamps, making it one of the first fountains to be lit at night.

When the Exposition ended in 1877, Bartholdi did not find any buyers for his fountain. In the end it was purchased by the United States Congress, which offered him only six thousand dollars, half the sum he had originally asked. In 1878, it was placed in the Botanical Gardens on the center of the Mall in Washington D.C. In 1927, it was moved to its present location.

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