It was a long, dreary spring, but relief came today. By mid-afternoon, the temperature was a 20 degrees above normal, hitting 85 degrees. In August people will complain, particularly if it is humid and the temperatures have soared for 10 days or so. Today, people were happy. The winter coats were gone, sockless feet were everywhere, and legs were propped up as people read and talked along the river.
Surprisingly, nobody was splashing in the Nicholas J. Melas Centennial Fountain, which sits on the north side of the Chicago just a few hundred yards west of Lake Shore Drive. One gentlemen, who was nestled behind the sheet of water in the fountain's inner cavity, certainly was enjoying himself, as he stood nonchalantly, holding a slender doobie (in today's parlance, a "blunt") and letting the mist from the fountain cool his warm flesh. The aroma was unmistakable, as was the reason for the smile on his face.
Every hour, on the hour, a water canon at the base of the fountain shoots a stream of water over the Chicago River for 10 minutes. Boat traffic comes to a halt until the arc recedes. On bright days, a rainbow often is visible.
Looking at the fountain, I knew immediately what draws me to it: Not the white water, but rather the translucent sheets that fall from the top of the fountain until the forces of design and nature pull them apart.
The fountain was dedicated in 1989, which commemorated the the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, one of the many odd governmental agencies that local politicians use to maintain power. Do we really need to elect water commissioners? Who determines the nominees? In Chicago, to ask the question, is to answer it.
The fountain is named in honor of Nicholas J. Melas, who served 30 years as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the district. During the last 18 years of his tenure, Melas served as president.
Photographer's Note: This is a pretty straightforward image. The cement surface in front of the fountain has markings, so it is easy to create a symmetrical center. The image was created using the Fuji GFX 50s medium format camera, with the 23 to 62mm lens.