Train Spotting, Prudential: Ali Bayer at the Christian Science Plaza Fountain

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Plenty of supremely recognizable landmarks in our quaint little village get taken for granted. For instance, consider the fountain in the Christian Science Plaza, right by the Prudential Center. In light of how many filthy feet traverse its grounds during the sweaty season, have you ever wondered what goes into maintaining this summertime splash-atorium’s cleanliness? No? Well why the heck not? We did! So we asked Ali Bayer, who works on Christian Science’s facilities and operations squad. She told us that they ensure the fountain’s safety and sanitation with basically the same methods that keep public swimming pools up to code. She also mentioned that the splashable bubbler, which first appeared in 1975, can erupt with 40-foot-tall blasts of H20. This raised raised the obvious question…..

If you guys can spray the water 40 feet in the air, why do it rarely instead of all the time?

Well, it’s a lot of water. As many of us are, we’re working on energy and resource conservation. Also, the Plaza gets windy, and 40 feet high in the air gets a lot more wind than ground level. We try to keep the water in the fountain, and not spray it across our neighborhood.

Wouldn’t most people appreciate an unexpected splash on a hot day?

To spray 40 feet, that’s a lot of water pressure. It wouldn’t be safe. So we keep it at about 5 feet while the kids play in it. You don’t want that much pressure going against you while you’re trying to play. That’s no fun.

Ah, I see. Such pressure could knock people unconscious.

Yes. We prefer to keep people upright.

What’s the worst mess that’s ever been cleaned up from the fountain?

I’d say, just like a regular swimming pool, children occasionally don’t make it to the bathroom, so that gets cleaned up from time to time…

Do you think children who soil the fountain should be subjected to some form of public shaming?

No. I’m not a fan. They’re little kids. Mistakes happen. Mistakes happen to adults. It happens to all of us.

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