In 1997 Mayor Daley had a vision to transform an unattractive piece of property then consisting of railroad tracks and parking garages to a new park to be connected with Grant Park. As it's name suggests it was scheduled to open with the turn of the new Millennium but as with all government projects it was delayed for a few years but it was worth the wait and it gets better every time I visit it.
For most visitors a visit to Millennium Park will start at the corner of Randolph & Michigan, I'd suggest starting at the new Welcome Center at 201 E. Randolph Street where you can get a map of the park or sign up for a Millennium Park Greeter, at 11:30am or 1 pm from May 16, 2009 - Oct 12, 2009. There's also a self guided audio tour you can rent or you can download it for free for your MP3 player
Highlights of the Park include Cloud Gate aka "The Bean", the Crown Fountain and the Gehry designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion (see separate tips).
Other features that you should check out include the Lurie Gardens and the BP bridge that snakes over Columbus Drive.
In the winter time there is an ice skating rink near the Park Grill, in the summertime there are free concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion which is also a nice place to have a picnic lunch and bicycle rentals at the Millennium Park Bicycle Station (Randolph & Columbus).
If you want a sit down meal in the park, there's Park Grill or if you want to do a picnic, try the Park Cafe or Corner Bakery at 360 N. Michigan. If you're coming from N. Michigan Ave. you can also try Fox & Obel at 401 E. Illinois (must call ahead for picnic baskets, 312-379-0133)
In addition to the concerts in the Pavillion, there are other special events during the year, sometimes there are photography exhibits, sometimes there are special sculptures that appear during the warmer months so do be sure to have a walk through the park to see if anything interesting is going on.
The winter months bring a change to the area around the Cloud Gate sculpture. The cafe disappears and an ice rink takes its place. Lots of smiling face and a few not so smiley faces can be watched making their way around the rink.
Want to give it a try? They rent ice skates there and have hot chocalate available once your toes get cold.
Millennium Park consist of several different venues. Cloud Gate is just the neatest part. Among Millennium Park's areas are the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate sculpture on the AT&T Plaza. It's interesting to watch people as they approach Cloud Gate. First, all you can see is the tops of buildings and the sky. As you get closer, you begin to see more things closer to the ground. You have to get right up to it to see yourself. You'll see people nearly leaning into it.
All around, there are others who are eating lunch, kids running and playing. The entire area is busy. Over by the Pritzker Pavilion, there are frizbee games, dogs playing, people lounging on the grass. You'll find a bit of peace or hubs of activities. You choose.
One of the things we enjoyed about Chicago was the number of parks. Chicago has remembered that cities have people in them and people like places to relax and enjoy themselves. Millennium Park is one of those places. It was great walking by on a sunny day and seeing kids playing in the water between the water walls. Watching the cascading water and the faces on the wall was fun.
Walking a little farther into the park, you'll find a sculpture garden, a concert area and the Cloud Gate. Cloud Gate is a highly reflective piece of art that draws people near to take a look, grab a picture and watch other people.
Do make some time to stop by and enjoy the park.
Taken on a cold February morning this is part of Chicago's new Millennium Park located on Michigan Avenue south of the Chicago River. In the first picture the building in the center is the Prudential Building which use to be the tallest building in Chicago when I was growing up. Picture #2 is looking west with the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in the background on the left.
Designed by Spanish artists Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain in Millenium Park features two facing 50-foot glass block towering structures projecting video of 1,000 Chicago faces. Every 12 minutes these faces transform into gargoyles reminiscent of traditional fountains. The fountains pour into a shallow wading pool.
Click here for more specific information about:
- the Crown Fountain
- the artist - Jaume Plensa
- A photo gallery of the making the fountain
Click here for more specific information about:
- Boeing Galleries
- the architect - Harley Ellis
What I wanted to do in Millennium Park is make something that would engage the Chicago skyline…so that one will see the clouds kind of floating in, with those very tall buildings reflected in the work. And then, since it is in the form of a gate, the participant, the viewer, will be able to enter into this very deep chamber that does, in a way, the same thing to one's reflection as the exterior of the piece is doing to the reflection of the city around.
Click here for more specific information about:
- the Cloud Gate aka the 'Bean'
- the artist - Anish Kapoor
This is one of the best and most popular parks in the city. Lots of tourists go, but it doesn't make the park any less great. There is a huge band shell type thing. It's a great place to see any type of concert or show. The cool thing about the park is that on all sides almost, there is all these high rise buildings. You truly feel like you're in the city. And of course, probably the number one reason for going to Millenium Park. The Bean. A pretty cool structure, that anyone can appreciate. You can't go to. Chicago without seeing The Bean.
This park is a delight for the residents and visitor's to chicago alike. It houses the Crowne Fountain which is a very interactive fountain, the bean, and amazing BP Bridge which links 2 sections of the park together and there is even an ice skate rink here during winter.
Besides all the extra features it was the park's grounds that stunned me with the incredible Lurie garden full of native plants. When we visited there was a sea of purple with many different herbs, a millenium park greeter is on hand to tell you about the garden and there is free walking tours scheduled 11.30am & 1pm from the welcome centre.
During summer there is a permanent stage set up with sound system and seats were they hold outdoor free concerts. You are also able to bring a bottle of wine and a picnic to enjoy a show. There are security guards patroling the park to ensure no unruly behaviour. The park is very enviromently green with solar panels as well as turf laid over an excellent drainage system.
The Crown Fountain (the name comes from the wealthy Chicago family that sponsored the fountain) is another highlight of Millennium Park, 2-50 foot towers that feature faces of 1,000 random people photographed by students from the School of the Art Institute in 2003. The faces show up in random order and stay on for about 5 minutes. The fountains are turned on from late April-mid-October.
Be sure to stick around for a few minutes to see the fun part of the fountain when the picture changes ever so slightly, the eyes shut and the lips purse into an "o", then hidden pumps spit water out of their mouths. During the warmer months, kids love to come play in the water shooting out from the fountain.
Millennium Park took a few extra years past the millennium to be completed (whether you argue that the start of the millennium was 2000 or 2001), officially opening in July 2004, and Cloud Gate took even longer finally being dedicated in May, 2006 after many months of polishing. And more polishing. And more polishing. The cost, originally estimated to be $9 million, mushroomed to $23 million. I'm still a little stunned when I think about THAT amount of money for a giant silver kidney bean ;-)
I'll have to admit, I laughed very long and hard when I heard about the addition of this scuplture to the much awaited-and delayed-Millennium Park. But now that I've seen it in person, I think it's pretty cool. Maybe not $23 million dollars cool but hey, I didn't pay for it!
It's official name, given to it by Bombay born sculptor Anish Kapoor, is Cloud Gate but it instantly received the nickname of "the bean". It is 9 feet high at the center allowing folks to walk underneath it (hence the Gate part of the name)
Due to it's reflective polished stainless steel exterior, it is a work of art that is never the same, producing a warped reflection of the city's skyline and the people who come to marvel at it. I've seen some pretty interesting pictures that people have taken of it. Try to visit both in the daylight hours and in the evening after dark, the view of the nighttime skyline reflection is also pretty cool.
One feature of spectacular Millenium Park is the Cloud Gate.
It is British artist Anish Kapoor's first public outdoor work
installed in the United States. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of
a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect
the city's famous skyline and the clouds above.
A 12-foot-high arch provides
a "gate" to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to
touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a
variety of perspectives.
Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind in
the world, measuring 66-feet long by 33-feet high. Cloud Gate sits upon the
At&T Plaza, which was made possible by a gift from AT&T.
Indeed a magnificent piece, you will be in awe of this modern work! We were!
A unique feature of Millienium Park is the hugely popular Crown Fountain.It was designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and inspired by the people of Chicago.
According to the Park website:" The fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out. Plensa adapted this practice by having faces of Chicago citizens projected on LED screens and having water flow through a water outlet in the screen to give the illusion of water spouting from their mouths. The collection of faces, Plensa's tribute to Chicagoans, was taken from a cross-section of 1,000 residents."
The fountain, which anchors the southwest corner of Millennium Park at Michigan Avenue and Monroe Streets, is a favorite of both children and families.
In fact, My son thoroughly enjoyed playing at this fountain which at the time we were there had very cold water, it being start of spring then!
The water is on from mid-spring through mid-fall each year (weather permitting,) while the images remain on year-round.
In the winter you can ice skate on the outdoor rink, in the summer they have concerts. Even if there arent any special events you have to go take a picture with the the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as the bean. Its a good place to walk around and relax. Take in the art and people watch