Aside from being the largest city in the state of Michigan and a major port city on the Detroit River, Detroit is also known as the world’s traditional automobile center. Detroit played a big role in the growth of the American automobile industry. For that, it earned the nickname The Motor City.
One of the names that stand out when Detroit’s automotive industry is mentioned is Horace Dodge. For his contributions in the automobile industry, a fountain in his name, and his son, was built – the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain.
The father and son fountain stands at Hart Plaza, one of the great focal points of the city where various celebrations take place. This particular fountain is very central to the plaza’s design. More than that, it gives such an impact on those who gain sight of the water piece.
The construction of the fountain was made due to the requests of Martin Hayden, Detroit News Editor and Jerome Cavanaugh, mayor of the city at the time.
Horace Elgin Dodge was a pioneer in manufacturing American automobile. He, together with his brother John Dodge, founded the Dodge Brothers Company. The two of them started as machinists at a company in Ontario. Then, in 1897, with a dirt-proof ball bearing which was invented and patented by Horace, they ventured into manufacturing bicycle with a third party investor. After a few years, they sold the bicycle business and moved on to setting their own automobile business. In year’s time, their company earned a solid reputation of quality services and they became the supplier of several major companies such as Olds Motor Company and Ford Motor Company.
It was in 1896 when Horace married Anna Thompson. They were blessed with two children, a daughter named Delphine and a son named after Horace, Horace Jr. When Horace Dodge died in December 1920, Anna with their two kids became city benefactors and continued being socialites.
When Mayor Cavanaugh and news editor Hayden made the plea for creating the fountain, Anna Thompson, widow of the automobile baron, gave $2 million to the city. With the fund already at hand, erecting the fountain was started immediately. It was Isamu Noguchim who won the job of designing the fountain. In 1978, the fountain was completed and erected in Philip Hart Civic Center Plaza at Woodward and Jefferson Avenue. As can be seen presently, the fountain with a height of 30 feet is designed with two inwardly canted supports with a stainless steel ring suspended between them. The basin below the fountain sprays water in a variety of ways, while the suspended ring spouts water downward creating an amusing view of sheets of water crisscrossing. The skyline of Windsor and the Detroit River serve as backdrops of the fountain.
Combining the powerful jest of water, the dramatic setting and all the other elements, a futuristic environment is obtained. As designer Noguchi said, he envisioned of creating a fountain that would represent our times and relationship with the outer space.