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The drinking fountain button is tragically misunderstood

A finger with red nail polish presses a worn metal disc of a drinking fountain button with three holes
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Buttons feel magical. You press here, and invisible connections make something happen elsewhere. But “magical” is probably not how I’d describe most public drinking fountains.

Who among us hasn’t walked up to a drinking fountain, expecting a bubbling stream of life-giving water, only to experience the crushing disappointment of a measly trickle after smashing in that button?

But I’m beginning to think it’s not the drinking button’s fault; they’re actually some of the most elegant buttons out there. They’re one of the few remaining buttons where your push directly and mechanically controls the result. They’re over a hundred years old. And all the action happens within an inch of the button itself.

Photo by Amelia…

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