It all started in 1852 when the first WSP fountain was completed. After its first replacement in 1872, it was renovated to include a wading pool in 1934. And it once again grabbed the attention of renovators for the ongoing construction and renovation project that began in 2007. Phase 1 of this controversial project included rebuilding the fountain (with wading pool area) so that it aligns with the arch. Despite community complaints and lawsuits, the fountain was in fact closed, reconstructed, and reopened in May of 2009.
Now, a year later, crowds fill the fountain and its surrounding area. And though there may be ongoing complaints over its renovation, you don't hear them when you're cooling your feet by its edge.
Though I often enjoy sitting on its edge while avoiding the splashes of countless kids, I never ventured into the fountain waters until late last week. And, as usual, I picked the worst time to do so.
My friend Jess and I were innocently enjoying our Cake & Shake milkshakes near the fountain when it started to rain. Neither of us had an umbrella and I suggested that ignoring the rain could possibly make it disappear. It did not.
I'm not sure which one of us suggested it first, but all of the sudden there was no turning back. We were headed for the fountain.
Don't worry, we were smart about it – we made a new friend who agreed to watch our stuff and take pictures for your sake.
There was no resisting it, as Jess said, "the fountain was beckoning."
So in we went, fully clothed.
Clearly, wading around its edges is for wimps. We went straight through the fountain itself.
And I took a bit of a fall.
But even so, we conquered that fountain.
Or perhaps it conquered us. In Jess' words, "it was kinda slimy and smelled funny." And we were then fully clothed, drenched, and cold in the middle of the afternoon, both far from our respective apartments.
When my husband, Chris, called to make dinner plans, I can't say he was surprised to hear that his wife was drip-drying in the rain on a WSP bench.
Although Jess admitted "I'll still give it another chance," I was unconvinced. By the time I got home, my skin felt dry and slimy at the same time. My cloths smelled musty. How could anyone enjoy that?
But, as I've suggested before, perhaps WSP is completely different (or creepy) in the rain. So perhaps the slimy, smelly sensation was due to the rain? Or the fact that we were stuck in wet cloths? Or the fact that it was cold (for June)?
Because Chris and I did in fact give the fountain another chance yesterday, receiving remarkably better results.
Perhaps it was the fact that we wore bathing suits, or that the temperature soared to the upper 90's, but the WSP fountain was simply fun and refreshing.
And the heat prompted tons of park-goers to venture into the fountain whether they wore bathing suits or cloths and whether or not they had kids as an excuse.
And trust me, Chris was only one of many who jumped into the actual fountain. His many co-conquerers likewise ranged in ages and attire.
Swimming laps was not exactly possible, but it was as refreshing as any pool I've been in.
I can't say what filtration or chemicals clean the fountain; however, it looks clean and from time to time the area seems smell strong of chlorine.
I'm not gonna lie, I still showered when I got home, but the fountain provided great fun and great community for all who needed to cool off yesterday afternoon. It's high on my list of suggestions for things to do on a hot New York afternoon.
While I personally will not again jump through the fountain jets when I'm fully clothed and have dinner plans (or when its raining), I will wade in to partially cool off. And, if I just so happen to have a bathing suit handy, I won't hesitate to join those who make it their own personal pool club.