Geneva’s famous icon turns 125 this year. Inaugurated in 1891 for the federal gymnastics festival, it was illuminated a few days later for the 600th anniversary of the Swiss confederation. When it first opened it reached a height of 90 metres. In 1951, Services Industriels de Genève (SIG) opened an electrically powered pump system that pushes water 140 metres into the air.
Today it is all show. When it was constructed it had a real purpose. Its history goes back to 1886, when the rapidly expanding city opened a nearby hydraulic pumping station on the Rhone river to serve local artisans, many of them watch makers. Much of the water was used to power factory machines. At the end of each workday, when the machines were shut down, excess pressure built up in the system, so a valve was needed to release it. This valve created Geneva’s first aquatic plume. This later became the Jet d’eau.
- Inside Geneva’s Jet d’eau – the people and machines that keep 7 tonnes of water in the air (Le News)
In 2016, the fountain gained two new features: LED lighting projectors and an new walkway, making it more accessible to the public. Last week to celebrate the jet’s 125th birthday it was fired up by well-known Genevan author Joël Dicker.