While today, public water fountains are somewhat of a relic of a time before the ubiquitous plastic water bottle, at one point such basic amenities were all that a poor Chicago newsboy could ask for. In fact it was just such a young man whose summertime thirst inspired him to found the classically-inspired Rosenberg Fountain which is dedicated to all of the city’s parched.
Built in 1893, the grand water fountain, located in Grant Park, was created thanks to one Joseph Rosenberg who worked slinging newspapers on the Chicago streets during his youth. He never forgot the near unbearable summer heat, nor the miserly shopkeepers who refused to give him anything to drink. Rosenberg grew up to find wealth and success in California but his boyhood employment was never far from his mind so he put plans in place to have a fountain created upon his death so that no other citizens would ever go thirsty again.
Per his request, the fountain was built a couple of years after his death. The fountain itself is located in the center of a stone-columned gazebo that is topped with an 11-foot tall bronze figure of the Roman goddess, Hebe, who represents rejuvenation.
The fountain was restored in 2004 and continues to provide respite to any and all waifs in need of a drink.
Illinois Week on Atlas Obscura was created in partnership with Enjoy Illinois as part of the launch of the new Illinois Obscura Society. Sign up to find out more about the back room tours, unusual adventures, and incredible parties that Atlas Obscura will be putting on in Chicago and greater Illinois.