5 Things You Might Not Know About Fountain Square

Few things are as iconic in Cincinnati as Fountain Square. Resting on Fifth Street between Vine and Walnut, it's viewed by many as the spiritual center of the city. But if you haven't read up on it, you might be a little surprised at it's history. Here's 5 things you might not know about Fountain Square.

Fountain Square in 1907

It has an eerie past.

When settlers first arrived in Cincinnati, they found a burial mound on the current site of Fountain Square. Shortly after, a market was built on top of it. Oh and by the way, a similar burial mound was also found nearby on Central Parkway.

Tyler Davidson Fountain in 1906

Building it was a little controversial.

Before it was finally built in 1871, organizers were met with controversy and court battles. After the space was settled, a group of butchers set up their stalls there. When developers came forward with their grand plans, the butchers didn’t want to leave. That’s when the city decided to send a gang of workmen to the square in the middle of the night to destroy all the stalls!

The fountain has it's own history.

If you didn’t know, it’s officially called “The Tyler Davidson Fountain.” That’s because in the 1800’s, a Cincinnati civic leader named Henry Probasco went to Munich, Germany and had the bronze fountain commissioned in memory of Davidson, his brother in law. It was designed by German artist August von Kreling called Genius of Water. When it was finally unveiled at it’s current site, Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes was there to speak, becoming President of the United States 6 years later.

The fountain hasn't always been facing that direction.

In 1971, the city decided to renovate the square. That included slightly moving and re-orienting the fountain to the west. They also made the plaza bigger by removing the original westbound portion of 5th street and demolishing several buildings to the north. Later in the early 2000’s, the fountain was renovated and moved again to a more central location.


Each part of the fountain tells a story.

The next time you look at the fountain, look a little closer. At the top is the 9 foot tall woman deemed The Genius of Water. Below her you’ll find 4 adult figures showing the principal uses of water. Look even closer, and you’ll see 4 more images in the center. On the north side is a workman on a burning house asking for water. On the east side, you’ll see a mother leading her young boy to a bath. Facing south, a farmer prays for rain. Finally, on the west a girl is offering a drink of water to a man on crutches. On the rim, you’ll see 4 more individual figures showing youth playing with water.

Next time you take a trip downtown, stop by the iconic fountain and take a closer look. It's a window into the history of the Queen City, truly dedicated "To the People of Cincinnati."