Twenty-two white shallow circular basins are set in the lawn borders along the Marine Canal; they stand out sharply against their green background. Four-metre jets play gently above them, like the swaying trunks of fairy-tale crystal trees. The water, filling the basin and passing down through hidden pipes, flows in a glistening arc out of a gilded mask into the canal. The canal and fountains arranged in two rows along its banks resemble a kind of avenue.
Until the end of the nineteenth century, the fountains were called the Niche Fountains. This was because, at an earlier date, the area of the canal had been enclosed in trellis screens with twenty-two niches for fountains.
The general plan of the canal's decoration, dating from 1722, was conceived by Michetti; the drawings for each fountain and its sculptural decoration, based on episodes from Aesop's fables, were made by Zemtsov, and models for the sculptures were created by Pineau. In the autumn of 1724, "fable" groups were installed in four of the trellised niches: Two Serpents, Dragon Gnawing at an Anvil, Mountain Giving Birth to a Mouse, and The Hen and the Kite; the other eighteen niches were decorated with multi-jet fountaining vases executed in carved wood.
In 1735, concurrently with the construction of the Samson Fountain, Zemtsov moved the fountains from the trellised niches closer to the banks of the canal, making new basins for them from Pudost limestone, in the form of shallow garden baskets with two lug handles; the outlets in the walls of the canal were covered by gilded lead masks, cast from a model by Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli, the sculptor. Thus the composition of the Water Avenue took shape.
By 1860, fourteen fountain bowls, made from Carrara marble at the Peterhof Stone Works, had been set along the canal from the Pool to the Marly Bridge. This work was planned and carried out by Stakcnschneider. The remaining eight bowls made from Pudost limestone were retained without alteration. At the same time four-metre single-jet fountains were created to replace the multi-stream wooden vase fountains. The Water Avenue forms an impressive approach to the centre of the Lower Park, serving as a sort of propylaeum which leads to the Great Cascade.