Saturday, June 17, 2017

Post Script: Temperance Fountains

In my last post, I neglected to mention the historical analogue between Confederate monuments and temperance fountains. Like many cities, DC has a temperance fountain located halfway between the US Capitol and the White House, placed so that tourists in the 1800s could have a drink of water instead of slipping into a saloon or a drink or few. In the 1920's, temperance turned to prohibition, and many of the fountains placed around the country were removed or demolished. They had become symbols of oppression. Fittingly, DC, with its historic reputation as a sober town back when people had faith in government, kept its fountain. It even outlasted the old local neighborhood's urban decay of the 1970's and 1980's, and eventual revitalization into a must-see area. Today, instead of being filled with empty cans of beer and malt liquor, a fountain again flows with water. In DC, there are still vestiges of sober conformity; a dating site recommends that a person who is a researcher by day and painter by night call himself an analyst, rather than an artist.