When (you're not) in Rome: Kansas City's fountains give 'Capital of the World' a run for its money

Kansas City Fountain Day is a spring tradition every year to turn many of the city's 200-plus registered fountains back on at once

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Known as the City of Fountains, Kansas City is believed to have more than any city except Rome.

And it is a spring tradition every year to turn many of them back on at once.

Fountains have been engrained into the city’s culture and identity. They even inspired Kansas City’s adopted logo.

On Tuesday, the water began running once again as Fountain Day started off with a ceremony overflowing with enthusiasm for Kansas City’s water features.

"It is our singular and distinctive rite of spring, and people really feel good … people get pumped up about Fountain Day," said Jim Fitzpatrick, president of the City of Fountains Foundation. "It’s something to look forward to. It’s a sign that water is flowing, all is well in Kansas City."

The foundation’s goal is to manage public and private donations, generate financial support for maintenance and increase public awareness about the significance and importance of Kansas City’s fountains.

The love for fountains originated during the City Beautiful movement of the 1890s.

But to figure out how Kansas City ended up pooling together so many fountains, you need to turn to the history books. It started in the late 1800s when Kansas City’s first fountains were erected as horse troughs. Then came ornate drinking fountains in downtown Kansas City.

It was a trend that began catching on as property owners started decorating their places with fountains.

Of the city’s 200-plus registered fountains, 48 of them are publicly owned. They remain timeless works of art that can be found scatted throughout the metro and have been enjoyed by locals and visitors for more than 100 years.

"I just get a feeling of, 'Ah, this is really nice.’ I think the negative ions are rushing into the brain and making me feel good," Fitzpatrick said. "You know, it’s just an incomparable type of feeling. So, we just love it here in Kansas City, and we’re very proud of it."

The fountains stay on throughout the summer, and then they get shut off about October. That’s when temperatures start to dip, and it allows the city to do some maintenance.