A renewed friendship
Jacksonville, Fla., staged a grand reopening celebration and dedication last month of Friendship Fountain Park to mark the conclusion of its nine-month-long restoration. The $3.1 million project updated one of the city's most prominent downtown landmarks and improved the park's landscaping.
Opened in March 1965 on the south bank of the St. Johns River, the 200-foot-diameter Friendship Fountain was the centerpiece of a 14-acre park with mid-century modern architectural features. When it opened, the fountain was billed as the world's largest and tallest, with the central nozzle shooting water up to 120 feet high and a multi-colored light show dazzling visitors nightly. Over the years, downtown development greatly reduced the size of the park, and the fountain's pumps fell into disrepair.
Work began last year to update the fountain infrastructure — including the pumps, piping and electrical systems — and replace its 252 multi-colored incandescent lights with 159 LED lights. A wind anemometer was installed to measure wind speeds and automatically raise or lower the fountain jets accordingly. Around the fountain, concrete areas were replaced with grass and other native vegetation, and benches, trash cans, lights, sidewalks, and a new stereo system were installed. The fountain now operates throughout the day and attracts downtown visitors to a programmed light show synchronized with music every evening from 8-10 p.m.