Street Address/Location: St. Nicholas Place and 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue
Town/City: New York
County: New York City
Owner: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYCDPR)
Architect/Engineer/Other Responsible Parties: George Martin Huss, architect and designer of the fountain; businessman John Hooper, gave the city $5,000 upon his death for the construction of the fountain
Historic Use: Drinking water fountain for people, horses, dogs, and cats
Present Use: Decorative fountain, not suitable to drink from
Architectural Style: Beaux Arts
Period(s) of Construction: 1894
Date of Decommissioning: unclear, but the fountain was toppled by vandals in the early 1980s and the column was subsequently stored under a bridge on Randall’s Island for nearly twenty years before the fountain was restored
Date(s) of Demolition: n/a
Structural System/Materials: Pink granite, bronze, cast aluminum, glass
Significant Alterations: 2001, restored through a partnership between the NYCDPR and the NYC Department of Transportation (restoration included recreation of the bronze lamp and weathervane at the top of the column, as well as bronze lion-head spouts
Brief Architectural Description: The John Hooper fountain consists of a large, round horse trough, a carved pedestal drinking fountain, and a central 28-foot-high Ionic column topped by an ornamental, globe-shaped lantern and weathervane. It is located on a small triangle of land between three streets, on the north edge of Jackie Robinson Park.
Brief Statement of Historic Significance: The fountain was built to provide drinking water for people, horses, dogs, and cats, at a time when horses were still one of the main forms of transport in New York City. It was one of many fountains built around the city both for horses and for people around the end of the nineteenth century, although few remain today.
Accessibility to Public: The fountain is accessible constantly, as it is outside and not fenced in.
Landmark Status: In 1992, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Macombs Dam Bridge, 155th Street Viaduct, and Maher Circle, which encompasses the Hooper Fountain, as an official landmark. (LP1629)
Threats: Although the NYCDPR restored the fountain’s plumbing in 2001, there have been several complaint about the fountain not working properly. Also, the fountain is currently under the jurisdiction of several different city departments, and there is no one department in charge of its total maintenance and protection.
Current Interpretation: The NYCDPR has installed a metal plaque that explains the fountain’s purpose and history, and the same information is available on their website. However, the fountain is currently located on a small triangle surrounded by car traffic, and does not really encourage someone to want to walk up to it.
Christopher Gray, “Streetscapes/The 155th Street Viaduct,” New York Times, July 9, 2000.
Department of Transportation, “INNOVATIONS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS,” 2006 BRIDGES AND TUNNELS ANNUAL CONDITION REPORT, http://home.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/bridgerpt07_2.pdf.
Forgotten New York, http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/155thstreet/155.html.
“Horses Water Once More at Hooper Fountain,” The Daily Plant 16, no. 3466 (Oct. 10, 2001), http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_newsroom/daily_plants/daily_plant_main.php?id=10992.
Jay Shockley, “Macomb’s Dam Bridge (originally Central Bridge) and 155th Street Viaduct,” New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report, January 14, 1992.
New York City Department of Parks website, “Wright Brothers Playground,” http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/M234/highlights/8726.
“Obituary,” New York Times, Dec. 23, 1889.
“Water for Man and Beast,” New York Times, May 17, 1896.
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