The fountain is a reproduction of one built for Rome's Villa Borghese around 1740, and was a gift from the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1926 to celebrate America's sesquicentennial.
After the water flowed, Marc Zaharchuk, a third-generation Fairmount resident and Azalea Garden volunteer, began remembering.
"Kids used to go swim in the fountain, so they had it blocked off," he said. "It looks tremendously better now."
After a series of restorations throughout the years, by 2006 it had become clear that the fountain would need major rehabilitation. Made of travertine, it didn't hold up well in the Philadelphia climate. Earlier restorations used concrete to patch the cracks, making things worse.
That's when the city began a $1.7 million restoration that included work to its base and approach.
In April 2012, the firm Materials Conservation Collaborative deconstructed all 40 tons of travertine and took it to their studio to fix. JPC Group Inc. was hired to make a new base. Landscaping with "Italian-inspired plants" added the finishing touch.
Tim Carey, a member of the Bike Club of Philadelphia since 1979, said he had never seen the fountain like he did Wednesday. The club meets near the fountain before its rides.
"This is the first time I've seen the fountain on," he said. "It's beautiful, it really is."
Contact Megan Lydon at firstname.lastname@example.org.