In the heart of Silver Lake you can visit a defunct fountain that once honored the inventor of an essential piece of medical equipment. Or so we’re led to believe.
From a distance it doesn’t look like much. This oddly shaped planter filled with scraggly trees and overgrowing with grasses sits unobtrusively in the center of a chunk of greenspace adjacent to Sunset Triangle Plaza. Hidden amongst the foliage is the remains of a dilapidated, graffiti-covered concrete monument gathering dust and urban detritus.
But at one time, this neglected structure was a fountain flowing with clean water. And it was also possibly one of the most subtle practical jokes played on the good citizens of Los Angeles.
The concrete-and-tile fountain was designed as a series of oval catch basins with suggestive spouts that is more than a little suggestive of bedpans.
It was always a bit of an odd conversation piece good for a laugh, but in early 2004, one enterprising urban humorist took this idea and ran with it. One day, a plaque appeared on the side of the fountain’s stucco retaining wall that read:
Mildred P. Flaggerty
Inventor of the Bedpan
Los Angeles Civic Council 1977
Now it doesn’t take much to debunk this obscure dedication. There is no Los Angeles Civic Council (it’s the Los Angeles City Council), the fountain was built in the mid-1990s (not 1977), and if good old Mildred ever existed, she certainly didn’t invent the bedpan. Use of such a device dates back to at least the 15th century.
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But like all good jokes, it’s totally believable if you don’t think about it too much — and many people found it either believable or hilarious. Or both. It even got a favorable mention in the May 2004 issue of Los Angeles Magazine.
But not everyone appreciated the joke. Placement of the plaque resulted in a bit of a brouhaha among members of the Sliver Lake Improvement Association and the folks in charge of Sunset Junction — the latter of whom were not amused.
The Bedpans Flow No More
At some point during the past 20 years, the plaque was removed, the fountain stopped running, and the planter has become overgrown with trees and shrubbery. It’s almost unrecognizable as a former fountain, unless you know what you’re looking for. It’s as if Silver Lake just wants us all to forget the whole affair.
But the fact that the fountain no longer functions hasn’t stopped travel websites from continuing to spread the legend of Mildred P. Flaggerty, a genius who saw an opportunity and filled it.
If you’re hungry …
… after visiting the Mildred Flaggerty Bedpan Fountain, just walk across Sunset Triangle Plaza and treat yourself to a Win-Dow-Double, one of our favorite Los Angeles smashburgers.
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Mildred Flaggerty Memorial Bedpan Fountain
- 3700 Sunset Blvd, Silver Lake
- GPS Coordinates: 34.090535, -118.277519 [ Google Maps ]
- what3words: ///mock.gentle.mixer
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