At the corner of Main and Center Streets, in the village of Geneseo NY, stands one of its iconic landmarks: the Emmeline Austin Wadsworth Fountain. Better known as the “Bronze Bear,” it was installed in 1888 and over the years has been the subject of innumerable photographs, late-night dips, apocryphal stories, and acts of vandalism. The rise of automotive culture was not kind to the fountain; it fell into disrepair and was surrounded by traffic signs that created drive-by glances at village history. Beginning in 2008, a group of residents called the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo undertook a restoration of the fountain and its idiosyncratic sculpture to their original state.
This exhibit begins at the Bronze Bear fountain and traces another, literally underground history of its water supply—where did it come from, anyway? Using historic maps and documents, along with modern geographical information services (GIS), it traces fountain water to its source in two different ways: spatially, to the various locations Geneseo has extracted (and disposed of) its water supply; and historically, back to a series of ecological problems created by the village’s growing population. It is presented as a series of interactive webmaps, which are viewed in their best resolution by clicking here.
Ken Cooper, Elizabeth Argentieri. Thanks to: Colleen Garrity, Stephen Tulowiecki, Steve Dresbach.