A few years ago on a family trip to Europe, we had the chance to spend an afternoon in Geneva, Switzerland, and despite limited time, we hoped to see as many of the city’s iconic sights as possible. Alas, our timing was off: the European headquarters of the United Nations, the Palais des Nations, did not accept visitors over the lunch hour (right when we showed up at the gates), and more surprisingly, the famous Jet d’Eau (“water-jet”), a fountain rising 140 meters (459 feet) from Lake Geneva, was closed for repairs. All was not lost, however, as we consoled ourselves with wine, chocolates, and souvenir shopping.
In 2003, two years after our visit to Geneva, the hours of operation for the Jet d’Eau were expanded, and it is now possible to see it in action all year long (though only during the day). This daily consistency calls to mind the Jet d’Eau’s non-mechanical predecessor, the geyser, which similarly releases water (and steam) at regular intervals. However, while the Jet d’Eau is the result of human ingenuity, geysers are the product of extremely rare circumstances, and once damaged, cannot be repaired so easily. [Article Continues…]