The Bubbler

Care for a sip?

I don’t know when it stopped working. Nor do I know who designed it or when and why the parks department designated it Drinking Fountain Type “A.” Presumably, this art-brut number (or letter), which until recently stood in Woodside’s Sohncke Square before being summarily uprooted, as if spurned for its stoic challenge to obsolescence, had a parentage and does not represent a fountainhead. Several models, in any case, have overtaken it. The newest, according to a user guide published by NYC Parks, Types “E” and “F,” cantilever to allow wheelchairs to fit underneath the water basin. Additional designs labeled by the guide as “Other” include arching and plumb models with dual “Hi-Lo” basins, water-bottle fillers, even dog bowls. Ductile iron seems to be the going material preference; though concrete continues to be used, it’s typically of the precast variety and so adheres to today’s imperfection-averse preferences. Which is to say, smooth and flush. The opposite of the brusque castoff Type “A” design, whose severe lines and snaggy reliefs, variably marred by decades of spalling, smack of “the bad old days” of hidebound institutions. Crime may be down, and city-sanctioned aesthetics may have gotten cheerier (ADA fountains are, indeed, a good thing), but life in New York retains a gray pallor.