10 June 2008

Cincinnati Concourse Fountain at Yeatman's Cove


Thinking we would cool off, we mistakenly headed to the Concourse Fountain Sunday. Since it was 93 degrees, and it was 24hrs before most of the public pools opened, it was disgustingly crowded. And it was the type of crowd that can only be attracted by a pool with no admission fee, no dress code and no amenities.

This fountain was built about 1969-70 1976, along with the this whole Yeatman's Cove area of the riverfront, including Serpentine Wall, Sawyer Point Apartments, and Riverfront Stadium. It is one of the places that you would see in brochures about Cincinnati in the 70's. A lot of civic investment and pride went into this whole area.

I recall going here in as a kid with my best friends, and we would climb up all the steps, and at the top, water was bubbling over the triangular towers. Around the upper areas there was a pathway of steps with water flowing around your feet, and we would chase each other around and around. We were skinny boys in cut-off shorts, and we had a blast. There were no fences, no handicap ramp and I certainly don't remember any lifeguards.

This place was built very sturdy in a brutalist style, like the old Fountain Square; but after 30 some years of deferred maintenance, the concrete is starting to crumble. The elevator has been out of order for at least ten years. Higher railings were added and most of the upper reaches have been fenced-off for safety reasons. And now, beginning this year, it appears that the cascades of water are no longer working. What remains is simply an 8" deep wading pool that for good reason is very heavily chlorinated.

According to the CRC Aquatics Plan this is scheduled to be converted to an automated sprayground this year. I suppose they will add a rubberized surface, drain the pool and add some standard spray features. Certainly, a sprayground here will be an improvement over the shallow pool, still I feel some regret, because this was meant to be a better, more grand place.

[Where: 601 East Mehring Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202]


Jimmy_James said...

I never knew what this was. For one reason or another, I never found my way there as a child, but I always saw the water cascades while at Party in the Park and wondered what was up there. I guess I thought it was just a fountain. It looks pretty neat and now I wish I had seen it in its hey day. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

I might be wrong, but I don't think this was built in 69 or 70. I'm thinking it was closer to 1980. But your point is nonetheless true.

CityKin said...

No, I definitely played here in the late 70's. I would have guessed it was a bicentennial thing maybe built in 1976, but CRC aquatics plan says it was built in 1969. That kinda suprised me too.

Mark Miller said...

I played there in the early 80's. The towering snorkel in the right of the frame used to blast three jets of water all the way to the opposite steps...sort of a shower massage on steroids. It would knock you over if you didn't brace yourself against it. But that was OK 'cause the pool was a lot deeper then; at least four or five feet at the east end, tapering off to 6" at the west end.

It was completely unfenced back then with only a "No Lifeguard on Duty" sign to warn the public to protect themselves. Despite the sign, CRC would often station a guard there on summer days. He kicked me out once for sitting on the slab that juts out from the south triangle tower.

It was really nice at night. They used to leave all the water on except the jets, and it was surprisingly well lit. Perfect nightcap to a late show at the Skywalk Cinema.

UncleRando said...

This is a really cool fountain/play area. No wonder it was packed given the conditions.

Beach said...

Thanks for great info. We were wondering about if it was open yet, and googled it. Your post was teh number one result.

ls said...

Well, I know a bit about it since I am the architect who designed the whole place - the pool, fountains, concourse plaza, garage, the apartment building and the bridge across the expressway. Except for the apartment building, all the rest was officially opened July 1976 as part of the bicentennial. It is a very favorite place for me as a kind of remembrance of my father who was born right across the River in Bellveue KY. I designed it when I had my office in Philadelphia called Louis Sauer Associates, Architects. Nice for me to read that a lot of you enjoyed using it. Let me know if I can supply any other information. louissauer@gmail.com

Tammy said...

I have fond memories from the 80's coming here as a kid and loved the cascading water. I remember the pool being much deeper than 8" but then again I was a lot smaller back then. Too bad I can't bring my young son to enjoy the way it used to be when I was young