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Backstage Pass: Tyler Davidson Fountain

CINCINNATI (Perry Schaible) -- The Tyler Davidson Fountain is a city staple. It sits on Fountain Square surrounded by stores and restaurants.

It is one of the most visited attractions in the Queen City. The fountain is cast in bronze and sits on a granite base.

It's estimated that 500 gallons of water flow through it every minute. That's fitting because the entire theme centers around the uses of water, from the principal uses, to the industrial uses, the fun and the fantasy.

The Genius of Water watches as roughly two million people cross Fountain Square every year. The Genius is nine feet tall, standing on top of the Tyler Davidson fountain.

She's a thing of beauty, but it's her secrets that are most captivating.
"She's a piece sitting on top of a box, sitting on top of a shaft," says facility manager Joel Koopman. "The sculptures are actually bolted onto the structure, so everything in there is bolted together with individually marked bolts so that it could go back together when they brought it back from Germany. So, yeah, probably about 100 different pieces make it up."

The fountain was a gift to the people of Cincinnati 135 years ago.  Today, it is a symbol of the city.

The Genius watches over us and that's why the city gives her the royal treatment. Every two weeks the fountain is turned off and drained as a team of city workers transcend upon her for general maintenance.

If you ever have time, take a minute. Stop and watch them clean.
If you do, you'll see Tom Jacobs. He's the guy with the hat and long ponytail. "Right now, we are doing a general cleaning. We remove all the debris and change. We go ahead and hose it down to get the dirt to flow down to the lower basin. Then we move down to the lower basin and do the same process."

Jacobs has been working on the fountain for twenty-five years. He knows its secrets and where to find them.

The fountain is hollow inside. You get in to it through a locked door in the garage underneath the square. There's a shower stall and a ladder. Look up and you can see all the way to the top of the fountain.

The Genius's head and hands actually come off to allow for piping to come through. Tom retires in a few months. "It's a privilege really. Part of history. The ones before us, we're just carrying on. And, hopefully they'll take care of it after we go. This is a thing of pride really."

He says care of the fountain is a labor of love. The fountain has been moved three times in 1971, 2000 and 2006.

The most interesting part to Tom still stands today, she watches over the city from her perch in the sky. On the bottom, the fantasy uses of water. There is a boy riding a snake and a turtle. There are actually water fountains, fresh water for drinking.

Follow Perry Schaible on Twitter @Local12Perry  and LIKE her on Facebook 


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