The first U.S. Patent - on record - for a fire hydrant, Patent 909, was issued to John Jorden on September 8, 1838. We doubt he ever imagined his invention looking like this. In fact, neither did we, but that is what the Montgomery Martin Contractors team discovered just outside of the Federal Land Bank Building  Multi-family and Loft redevelopment, currently under construction in Columbia, South Carolina. 

* In case you wondered whatever happened to John Jorden, we don't know, but the patent office where he filed? It burned down three years later.

Busted Plug Plaza
The World's Largest Fire Hydrant

Columbia, South Carolina

Working in construction allows us the opportunity to help change our communities, allows us a look into our culture and history and sometimes provides us the opportunity to spend time getting to know some very unique places. One of those places is the World's Largest Fire Hydrant, a 40 foot tall, 5-ton steel sculpture of a leaning fire hydrant in Columbia, South Carolina.

The History

From Roadside

In 1975, South Carolina artist Blue Sky (formerly Warren Edward Johnson) painted "Tunnelvision," an outdoor mural in downtown Columbia. It was so popular that the city commissioned Sky to create a new artwork to celebrate the mural's 25th birthday. Sky labored in secret for months, calling his project "Y2K" and hiding it beneath an enormous tarp.

The tarp was finally lifted on February 18, 2001 (Sky overshot his Y2K deadline) to the roar of fireworks and an Elvis impersonator. What was unveiled was "Busted Plug Plaza," the world's largest fire hydrant. Almost 40 feet tall, weighing 675,000 pounds, the fireplug was was built to withstand a direct hit from a tornado, and purposefully over-scaled to dwarf  everyone else to the world's largest title.

The hydrant is designed to look tilted and broken, and although water seeps out of its base into the concrete rubble around it, the fireplug does not provide a single drop to the city of Columbia for firefighting.

How to Find It


1400 Taylor St.,
Columbia, South Carolina 29201

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