Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Portland Public Water System: The Benson Bubblers
In 1912, Simon Benson, lumber millioner and teetotaller, commissioned 20 drinking fountains with a $10,000 gift. He wanted to offer his loggers something cold on the streets to quench their thirst so they will not get drunk, at least not during work hours. Benson once said that after the fountains were installed, saloon sales decreased 40%. A. E. Doyle, architect of the Multnomah County Library and the Meier & Frank Building, designed the graceful bronze four-bowls. By 1917, the City had installed 40 fountains - known as Benson Bubblers - throughout downtown. There are now 52 Benson Bubblers (four-bowl fountains). The fountains have timers so they flow freely from 5 am to 10 pm daily.
Kever Benjamin has a lot to catch up with Portland. Our problem is not lumbermen felling dead drunk in the middle of Weizmann Street. Summer temperatures here are veritably hellish and there is no drinking water anywhere. The Municipality should install coolers in public places to fill in with cold water the water bottles that many people carry.