When Cincinnati was founded in 1788 by Mathias Denman, Colonel Robert Patterson and Israel Ludlow on the north bank of the Ohio River opposite the mouth of the Licking River, an Indian mound stood at the present site of Fountain Square.
Founded in 1871, it has been the symbolic center of Cincinnati, Ohio ever since. The square, which replaced a butcher’s market, was a gift from Henry Probasco in memory of Tyler Davidson. Probasco traveled to Munich and commissioned a bronze allegorical fountain from Ferdinand von Miller named The Genius of Water.
The Tyler Davidson Fountain is the centerpiece of Fountain Square, and is one of the area’s most-visited attractions. A hardscape plaza at the corner of 5th and Vine Streets in the downtown area. It is surrounded by stores, hotels, restaurants and offices.
Originally, the square occupied a large island in the middle of Fifth Street with buildings to the north and south, much like nearby Piatt Park. A 1971 renovation of the square included slightly moving and re-orienting the fountain to the west, and enlarging the plaza by removing the original westbound portion of 5th Street and demolishing buildings to the north.
In 2006, another round of renovations were undertaken to Fountain Square, and the Tyler Davidson Fountain was temporarily removed. When reinstalled it was relocated to a much wider space near the north end of the reconfigured square, closer to the Fifth Third Bank Building and away from street traffic. The fountain is turned off for the winter months and turned on again in time for the first home game of Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, the oldest professional baseball team, in April.