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Ludwigshafen

Colorful fountains in the Rhine

At the end of the 19th century, a spectacular and colorful event awaited VIP visitors to Ludwigshafen. An event which is unimaginable today: Colorful fountains were sprayed into the Rhine to honor the special guests. This was the case in September 1888. Prince Regent Luitpold visited the Palatinate region, stopping in Edenkoben, Speyer and Ludwigshafen, before embarking on a boat trip on the Rhine on September 23, during which he traveled past the BASF site premises. As reported in the Generalanzeiger newspaper: 

(…) A new surprise awaited the Prince at the aniline plant. From the surface of the river, a fountain of water suddenly erupted, projecting a violet stream of water into the air, as high as a house. The spectators greeted this sight with a loud exclamation of ‘Ah!’ but the astonishing show was just getting started: The colors began to change, from violet to red to green to yellow, the droplets glistened in the golden morning sunlight, creating an effect reminiscent of wondrous Venetian nights. (…)

Local newspaper "Der Generalanzeiger", September 1888

The colored water was presumably pumped with the necessary pressure through a pipe specially laid from the water plant. The objective here was probably not simply limited to entertaining the guests; those responsible also wanted to use the opportunity to advertise dye production, a vital part of BASF’s business at the time.

The color fountains were used again from time to time over the following years, for example during the visit of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria on May 26, 1894: The program for his visit included a tour of the city, viewing churches, social institutes and the hospital, as well as a trip along the Rhine with a visit to the new harbors and BASF’s company welfare facilities.

The Ludwigshafen Generalanzeiger newspaper reported on the “fountain as high as a house” on the Rhine and described it as first being white, then blue, orange, violet, green and pink, “in short, in all the main colors produced at the factory.” It was a spectacle which lured many spectators to the banks of the Rhine, as can be clearly seen from the image.

Many years later, in 1957, Carl Holdermann noted that the fountains are supposed to have reached heights of around 10 meters. Shortly after joining BASF in around 1906 he was able to experience a visit by Prince Regent Luitpold himself. However, this was the last time that the fountains in the Rhine were used.