1. Outside the Red Pepper Blues Club
New Orleans, Louisiana
Patrons coming and going to this landmark R&B shrine frequently use this hydrant to steady themselves, especially later in the evening. “This here hydrant has saved many a tourist from toppling over after one, two, or three too-many Hurricanes, cheri,” said Red Pepper manager John “Jean” Lafitte, referring to a highly-charged mixed drink sold on nearby Bourbon Street. The hydrant, which has been in this spot since 1909, was immortalized in the classic New Orleans jazz tune, “Basin Street Plug.”
2. The Corner of Heller & Highwater
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
This unassuming hydrant has transformed the surrounding community in an initiative led by local dogs, who drag their masters to this corner on daily walks. On warm evenings as many as two dozen neighbors gather at a time while their pet dogs raise legs on the well-irrigated hydrant. “I hardly even knew my neighbors before Sparky discovered this spot,” remarked Cleavon Freeman, “Now some of us have a potluck every other Friday.”
3. Frick Pkwy. and Frack Ct.
Jason Kleinmetz was assigned the PPS book How to Turn a Place Around in a college course. After graduating from college with a planning degree, he moved back to his hometown, which he woefully recognized as a “classic and seemingly incurable case of there being ‘no there there.’” Not easily deterred, Kleinmetz decided one night at about 3 a.m. to paint the fire hydrant in front of his parents’ house blue. Pleased with the result, he convinced local officials to relocate a bus stop to the corner and grant him a zoning variance so he could operate a hot dog cart on the corner. Burrito, falafel, schnitzel, tandoori and sushi vendors soon followed. A playground was installed in a nearby vacant lot and a bike path dedicated on the boulevard. “Wow, this is really what we mean when we talk about the ‘Power of Ten,’” exclaimed PPS vice-president Kathy Madden upon touring the vicinity last month. Kleinmetz was elected to the city council two years ago, and is contemplating a run for mayor on a platform of “No More Misplacing Schaumburg.”
4. Back St. and Bacon Ave.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
After figuring prominently on an album cover by famed Halifax band The Ruddy Buddhas, this hydrant became a de rigueur photo shoot for all musicians passing through town. The site became even more famous after appearing on album covers by B.B. King, Outkast, the White Stripes, Tanya Tucker, and the Vienna Philharmonic, and now features dawn-to-midnight musical performances seven days a week during the summer months. “No band in any genre can truly be said to have ‘made it’, until they’ve serenaded that famous little fireplug in Halifax,” enthused Billboard magazine.
5. Calle Zapato and Avenida Pie
Under mayor Peña Enriquelosa’s new reform administration, the fire department opens fireplugs on warm summer days to cool off local kids. This hydrant, which adjoins a neighborhood playground, has become the most beloved of Mexicali’s new “swimming holes.”