Designed in 1975 by Lawrence Halprin & Associates and opened in 1976 on the occasion of the U.S. Bicentennial, this plaza and the water feature that comprises most of its footprint were developed as part of a newly designed pedestrian mall meant to reinvigorate Sheboygan’s downtown business district. Originally called Plaza 8, the pedestrian mall was 3.5 blocks long (some 1,500 feet), replacing the vehicular right-of-way of 8th Street from Ontario Avenue south past New York Avenue. The mall included a parcel of land beside the Mead Public Library, where the fountain was constructed. The pedestrian mall was not successful, and, in 1990-1991, the City of Sheboygan removed it, reopening that portion of 8th Street to vehicles while retaining the adjacent fountain and plaza, the only remaining features of the mall.
The fountain and its small plaza occupy the northeast quadrant of the block framed by 8th and 9th Streets and, to the north and south, respectively, Wisconsin and New York Avenues. Water pours from a central concrete precipice on the western edge of the plaza into an upper basin. It is then diverted along one of three routes, cascading down irregular tiers of board-formed concrete platforms to reach a jigsaw-like pool, which is fronted by a brick apron that accommodates movable tables and chairs. Higher concrete platforms, providing informal seating, rise steplike along the southern edge of the plaza, which is bordered by a wall that supports an overlook from the adjacent library. A wide sidewalk with lighted bollards skirts the eastern perimeter of the plaza. From the sidewalk, stairs descend in three tiers, as well as from the south, to reach the apron. Over its full course, the water drops approximately ten feet and flows at a rate of some 10,000 gallons per minute. The sound of gurgling water as it pours from the fountain alludes to “Sheboygan,” the Native American word meaning “the place of rumbling waters.”