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The Secret Above Chicago's Fountain of Time

On Chicago's South Side, Lorado Taft's masterpiece Fountain of Time bears a fun little secret.

sculpture and water
Lorado Taft's Fountain of Time. Photo: Chicago Movie Tours

On this day in 1920, Lorado Taft's Fountain of Time began running on Chicago's Midway Plaisance. Well, the plaster version of it anyway. The finished piece was not installed until 1922.

For the last several weeks, I have been researching Fountain of Time because it serves as the finale of a new walking tour Chicago and Movies on the Midway. The sculpture is, after all, shown in at least three movies: Flatliners (1990), The Package (1989), and Chicago the Beautiful (1948).

While reading, I learned that Taft, the Chicago-based sculptor, once likened this 126-foot-long structure to that of a house:

  • concrete foundation

  • first floor (sculptural elements)

  • roof (walkway over the top)

To save on supplies and reduce weight on the foundation, the inside of Fountain of Time is hollow. Today, restoration experts can access its innards via a knee-high opening in the foundation.

Still, the bit about Fountain of Time's apparent roof intrigued me.

So one summer morning, I recruited a colleague with a drone, and we set out to see if a roof or walkway was visible.

Voila! There is a roof!

If you want to learn more about Fountain of Time and its connections to film, do join me on our outdoor walking tour Chicago and Movies on the Midway!



  • Lorado Taft: Sculptor and Citizen, Ada Bartlett Taft, 1946.

  • Lorado Taft: The Chicago Years, Allen Stuart Weller, Henry Adams, 2014.

  • "Time and Tide: Restoring Lorado Taft's Fountain of Time: An Overview," Barbara Hall and Robert Aaron Jones. Vol. 31, No. 2, Conservation at the Art Institute of Chicago (2005), pp. 80-89.

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