Swann Fountain sits halfway between City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was built to honor Dr. Wilson Cary Swann and is a focal point of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Swann was a 19th-century doctor who founded the Philadelphia Fountain Society because he believed that the city should have more public drinking fountains for people and troughs for animals.
The fountain was completed in 1924. Alexander Stirling Calder created its sculptures. The three central figures represent Philadelphia's major waterways: the Delaware River, the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek. Swann Fountain is also known as "The Fountain of the Three Rivers."
These nearby rivers were important natural resources in the early days of the city. People used water from the rivers for drinking, bathing, and fighting fires. in fact, William Penn specifically close this spot for Philadelphia because of its location between the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers.
The Calder Family Legacy
You can find the works of three generations of Calders along the Parkway. Alexander Stirling Calder (seen above) created the Swann Fountain sculptures. His father, Alexander Milne Calder, sculpted William Penn and the other figures at City Hall.
At the other end of the Parkway, inside the Philadelphia Museum
of Art, hangs the mobile "Ghost." It was created by Stirling's son, Alexander "Sandy" Calder.