Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rosenberg Fountain

Rosenberg Fountain, 1893
Franz Machtl
Grant Park
East of South Michigan Avenue at East 11th Street

            While working as a newsboy in Chicago, Joseph Rosenberg (1848-1891) could never get local businesses to spare him a drink of water. He vowed that if he were ever to become wealthy, he would create a fountain where newsboys could get a drink on a hot day. Joseph Rosenberg was the son of Jacob Rosenberg, co-founder of Michael Reese Hospital and of Chicago’s first Jewish congregation, KAM Temple. After leaving Chicago and making his fortune in San Francisco, he left $10,000 for a fountain to be placed on a prominent corner on the south side of the city. Designed by Bauer & Hill, the miniature Greek temple with fluted Doric columns that serves as base for the figure originally housed an illuminated fountain. The South Park Commissioners installed the piece near Rosenberg’s childhood home.
            In 2004, the Chicago Park District restored the fountain and the sculpture that was cast in Munich, Germany. Artist Franz Machtl’s design features an 11-foot tall bronze figure depicting Hebe, daughter of Zeus and Hera. She is the Goddess of Youth and the Cupbearer to the Gods and symbolizes rejuvenation. Although the original design depicted the goddess in the nude, the executors of Rosenberg’s will decided that, in the interest of propriety, she should be a draped figure. Currently, the fountain is purely ornamental and does not provide drinking water. On the day this photo was taken, however, several afternoon joggers stopped to splash their faces and refresh themselves.

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