Geneva’s Iconic Jet d’Eau Fountain
Geneva’s Iconic Jet d’Eau Fountain: The Jet d’Eau, shooting water at a speed of 124 miles per hour, has adorned Geneva’s skyline for over 130 years.
A violent encounter between a young man and Geneva’s iconic landmark, the Jet d’Eau fountain, resulted in the man being hospitalized.
The incident, as reported by the BBC, involved the man being propelled into the air by the powerful force of the Jet d’Eau’s fountain before landing on the concrete below.
To provide context, the Jet d’Eau propels approximately 110 gallons of water per second, reaching a height of over 450 feet, surpassing the Statue of Liberty by 150 feet. In other words, the fountain expels water at a speed of 124 miles per hour.
The man believed to be in his 20s, reportedly crossed the barriers around the fountain and attempted to position his face in front of the water nozzle. This action resulted in him being forcefully thrown backward.
Undeterred, the young man made a second attempt, this time trying to embrace the fountain with his arms, only to be thrown up into the air by the water’s force.
He crashed onto the nearby concrete walkway and surprised onlookers by diving into Lake Geneva before local authorities arrived to take him to the hospital.
One witness stated, “Police officers came and asked to urgently shut off the Jet d’Eau to be able to go get him.”
The Swiss electric company responsible for operating the fountain, SIG, will file a complaint against the man for trespassing.
The Jet d’Eau, meaning “water jet” in literal translation, has been an integral part of Geneva’s skyline since the 19th century and remains one of the city’s most renowned landmarks. According to House of Switzerland, the soaring water fountain symbolizes the city’s ambition and vitality.
Interestingly, the fountain’s existence can be attributed to a technical issue.
Hervé Guinand from SIG explained, “It’s a bit of a fluke that there’s a water jet in Geneva.”
During the period between 1850 and 1890, Geneva experienced a population boom, growing from 64,000 to over 100,000. With the city serving as an industrial and trade hub, new technology emerged, requiring substantial power.
To meet the power demands of these new machines, engineers harnessed the current of the Rhône River and constructed a hydraulic pump to power factory machinery, especially in watchmaking workshops.
At night, when workers had left for the day, excess pressure built up in the system. Initially, engineers had to rush to stop each pump individually. However, they eventually added a safety valve to control the pressure, resulting in a massive fountain of water shooting up into the sky.
Initially, the fountain reached a height of approximately 150 feet. Over time, a system was developed that no longer required the fountain to spray into the air continuously. Nevertheless, locals and visitors had grown fond of the intermittent spraying, leading the city of Geneva to establish the jet as a tourist attraction and relocate it to a more visible spot along the harbor.
Initially, the fountain operated only on Sundays and public holidays, but its popularity led the city to occasionally turn it on during weekdays. However, this posed a problem as the fountain drew water from the public drinking water system.
In 1951, modifications were made to propel water higher into the air, and the fountain began drawing water directly from the lake, passing through a filtration system before being expelled into the air.
The same pumps have been in use since then, with the city implementing additional enhancements such as an LED projector box to illuminate the fountain with various colors.