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Why Chicago is More than Simply an Urban Cityscape
By Andrew Regan

Chicago is famed for a number of things, but many people don’t associate the city with its amazing park district. This is a shame because with more than 7300 acres of parkland, encompassing 552 parks, 16 lagoons, 33 beaches and housing one of the world’s largest fountains, it is truly a great place to visit.

One of the most impressive and popular landmarks is definitely the Buckingham Fountain. The fountain is a great draw for tourists when it is turned on in April to signal the onset of summer. Constructed of Georgia pink marble, the attraction was first opened in May 1927 and still puts on spectacular 20 minute displays every day from mid April through to early fall, on the hour every hour between 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. The displays consist of all the fountain's 134 jets shooting approximately 14,100 gallons of water per minute, with the center jet shooting 150 feet into the air accompanied by a tremendous light and music presentation.

The fountain was originally designed by Edward H. Bennett, influenced by the Latona Basin in Louis XIV's gardens at Versailles, to represent Lake Michigan with four sea horses, created by Marcel Loyau, to symbolize the four states that touch the lake.

The fountain was dedicated to the people of Chicago in 1927 in memory of Clarence Buckingham, the late brother of Kate Buckingham who commissioned the creation of the structure. Kate Buckingham had a vision to construct a fountain which created the effect of "soft moonlight", and she worked tirelessly with the fountain's many technicians to test out a variety of colors for the glass filters and different water currents in order to produce a mystical, ethereal feel to the whole piece.

The pond life around the area is often teeming with frogs, herons, and dragonflies, and the shrubs are frequently filled with resting migratory birds; the lush prairie region is also embedded with native grasses and wildflowers, making the Park District of Chicago a beautiful and serene place to go to while staying in the city. It is within easy distance of the Sears tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, with its new Skydeck, the up market Merchandise Mart Mall, which will make even the most enthusiastic of power shoppers happy, and luxury hotels like the fabulous Conrad Hotel - so you can get a taste of nature but enjoy all the luxury and amenities that a big city can provide.

Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising at his local Edinburgh rugby club.

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