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Coordinates: 41°53′19.85″N 87°37′3.39″W / 41.8888472°N 87.6176083°W / 41.8888472; -87.6176083

The Centennial Fountain water arc.
The fountain waterfall as seen from across the Chicago River.

Nicholas J Melas Centennial Fountain is located on the north bank of the Chicago River at McClurg Court in Near North Side, Chicago.[1] It was dedicated in 1989, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, perhaps best known for its major achievement in reversing the flow of the Chicago River in 1900;[2] and in 1999, this system was named a "Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium" by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).[3]

The fountain is designed by Lohan Associates, architects. Every hour, on the hour, the fountain shoots a massive 80 foot [4] water arc across the river from a modernist tiered waterfall for 10 minutes.[5]

The fountain was named after Nicholas J. Melas who was elected in 1962 to the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Melas was re-elected 5 times, serving for 30 years; the last 18 as President of the Board.[6][7]



As the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago was soon to celebrate it's 100 year anniversary, Lohan associates came up with building a fountain along the Chicago River in it's honor. They designed a fountain that includes a sculptural sun dial along the side of the river. Lohan also thought of naming the fountain after long time MWRDC Board of Commissioners president Nicholas J. Melas. The fountain was opened to the public in 1989.[8]


Many Chicagoans know of the Centennial Fountain for the Water cannon that shoots its arcs over the river, but also included is a semicircular waterfall. The waterfall and the water cannon both operate from 8:00pm to 11:00pm every day starting on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day.[1]


  1. ^ "Centennial Fountain". Chicago Metropolitan Reclamation District. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Centennial Fountain". Emporis. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  3. ^ American Society of Civil Engineers. "Chicago Wastewater System". Archived from the original on 15 January 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Chicago Public Art: Nicholas J. Melas Centennial Plaza and Fountain". Chicago Public Art. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  5. ^ Dahlman, Steven (25 Mar 2015). "Loop North News Centennial Fountain Water Cannon". Loop North News. Steven Dahlman.
  6. ^ "Board of Commissioners List" (PDF). Chicago Metropolitan Reclamation District. Retrieved 15 September 2012.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Water District's Melas Rates Farewell Salute." Chicago Sun-Times. Raymond R. Coffey. November 15, 1992
  8. ^ "Other". Retrieved 2019-05-03.

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