We stayed at the Silversmith Hotel at 10 South Wabash Avenue in the Jewellers Row District in Chicago. It sits two blocks away from Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. We weren't impressed with the hotel at first sight for it looked like a warehouse but apparently it was originally constructed to house jewellers and silver craftsmen when it opened in 1897. Just outside the elevated track for the Chicago "L" rapid transit train offered its rusty girders for our inspection. Inside, however, the contemporary rooms feature Arts and Crafts period details, marble bathrooms, 12-foot ceilings, fridges and complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs met with our approval.
Almost as soon as we arrived we made for Millennium Park. Its construction began in 1998, and it opened on July 16, 2004. Because it sits on top of a parking garage and the commuter rail Millennium Station, it is considered the world's largest rooftop garden. The plan called for a 16-acre park and an outdoor music venue. Over time, things changed. Through public support, private sector involvement and design work by world-famous architect Frank Gehry, the park became a more ambitious project. Today, the park is 25 acres and contains some of the greatest public art pieces in the world, and admission is free.
The first artwork that drew our attention was a giant 39 feet tall snow white head sculpture by Jaume Plensa titled "Looking into My Dreams, Awilda". Installed in 2014 it celebrates the park's 10th anniversary. Plensa designed the head by taking a 3D laser scan of the face of a 9-year-old Dominican girl. He then manipulated the result to obtain a more elongated form. Unfortunately, it is only destined to be there until December 2015.
Next Cloud Gate attracted our attention. What an inspired piece of sculpture! It was Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor's first public sculpture in the United States. It consisted of 168 highly polished stainless steel plates welded together. Unveiled in 2005 it weighs in at 100 tons and measures 10 by 20 by 13 meters. Its design comes from liquid mercury, but locals nickname it ‘The Bean' because of its shape. The mirror surface reflects and distorts the city's skyline. We walked around and under Cloud Gate's 3.7-metre high arch looking at our distorted reflections and that of the city. The concave hollow underneath warps and multiplies images. The sculpture is popular with tourists as a photo-taking opportunity for its unique reflective properties.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion forms the centrepiece of the park with its trademark curving plates and stainless steel beams. Before I worked out what it was, I thought it was another piece of the park's sculpture. With room for 11,000 visitors, it has a state-of-the-art sound system and is a popular open-air live performance venue for visitors and locals. It features performances by the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, as well as jazz, blues, and other world music performances.
The stainless steel panels framing the stage opening connect to an overhead trellis of curved steel pipes in the shape of a flattened dome extending the 600-foot length and 300-foot width of the lawn area. The sound system suspended from the trellis gives excellent quality while keeping the noise level down in the surrounding neighbourhood. Performance sound is reinforced and enhanced by speaker clusters located in front of the Pavilion.
On a Saturday when we strolled through the Park there was a Blues Concert booming its beat across the Park. It was based on a different pavilion and possible didn’t make the grade for a performance from the Jay Pritzker Pavilion but nevertheless very enjoyable.
Further down the park nearer the lake we came to “Agora” a group of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures. This work by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz came to the Park in 2006. Permanently loaned by the Polish Ministry of Culture it received a mixed response from the people of Chicago. They either love it or hate it. In her journals, the artist writes that she has lived "…in times which were extraordinary by their various forms of collective hate and collective adulation. Marches and parades worshipped leaders, great and good, who soon turned out to be mass murderers. I was obsessed by the image of the crowd… I suspected that under the human skull, instincts and emotions overpower the intellect without us being aware of it." Unless people have gone through what the artist has gone through it is perhaps difficult to appreciate where she is coming from. Personally I thought her scupltures great. Particularly I liked the sculptures of two ladies, one black and the other white. They stand with folded arms holding a conversation across a narrow street’s worth of space in a very tense manner.
At the lake side we had an excellent view of the frontage of Chicago onto the water front. It’s a good spot for taking a photograph.
During a very nice VT meet in the Chicago area , a group of us walked from The Bean to the open -air stage and surrounding park to listen to a lovely concert under the sky. The Bean is one of the central attractions of Centennial Park and was the perfect meeting place for the Virtual Tourist attendees for the meet. I was totally amazed at the great accoustics from the stage, and because it was an open air concert with many folks sitting on blankets on the ground and even snacking and roaming around and talking, I did not expect it to be that good. Very relaxing and fun. If you get fidgetty sitting during a long concert, this is a good venue for you. You can walk around, mix and mingle, and even munch on goodies.
Chicago's Millennium Park is shrouded in controversy. Through delay and ballooning budget, it became known as "next Millennium Park". Costs spiralled from a proposed budget of just $10 million dollars, to an amazing half a billion. However, for that money, the city of Chicago got itself an impressive waterfront park, which has developed into one of the most sought after residential areas in the US.
The half a billion dollars bought the outstandingly talented Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion (his Der Neue Zollhof in Dusseldorf is one of my all time favourite buildings). It also bought the colourfully high-tech Crown Fountain and peacefully pleasant Lurie Garden. Most of all, however, it bought the incredible and unmissable Cloud Gate. The latter is such a favourite of mine in Chicago I gave it its own tip.
One thing that I wanted to do while in Chicago was to visit this wonderful park that i had previously heard so much about and ,I must say I wasn't dissapointed..The Millenium Park is only a part I beleive of this huge park..Known as Grant Park...There are many enjoyable things to see and a lot of thought has gone into the many art structures to see here.
I was lucky all the time I was here in this great city as I had such wonderful weather..Although there were many visitors in the park there was never a feeling of there being a crowd anywhere..A great place to "chill" and" people watch". Plenty of grassed areas and great to hear the children laughing and enjoying the water of the fountains on such a warm day.
.I walked here from Union Station down Michigan Avenue ..enjoying street musicians and some great food..just taking in this busy city...
I was seriously impressed with Millennium Park.
I enjoyed the greenery and the birds, the 'prairie' gardens (which were busy with bees and butterflies whenever I passed through), the serpentine bridge and the random bits of artwork....and people-watching, of course.
It felt safe too. It's not as vast as e.g. Central Park in New York and it just felt..well...safer because there was always at least one other person within sight.
The park was one of the highlights of my visit (can you tell I'm not a city girl?) and it would be a huge shame to visit Chicago and not enjoy at least an afternoon's stroll.
Millennium Park was so much fun for Josh and ther other kids in out party. Josh had been here before and actually remembered it!!!
This is a great place to relax and let your kids play! It's also within walking distance to The Bean and this amazing area where outdoor concerts are held. Sreph tells me the acoustics are prefect having been to concerts there before!
Restaurants, bus lines and shopping are all just steps away!
Chicago has some killer green spaces for residents and visitors alike to escape the shadows of the skyscrapers and noise of the streets. One of the best is also one of the oldest: Grant Park was been a waterfront oasis since 1844 and includes gardens, lawns, biking/walking trails, playing fields, fountains, skating rinks, performance spaces and monuments plus anchors some of the most popular attractions. Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum and Institute of Art all border Grant's expanse and one corner - Millennium Park - offers the best bargain in Chicago for free summer concerts at its enormous Frank Gehry-designed pavilion. Especially interesting about Millennium is that it's not just a park, it's one of the biggest green roofs in the world as it covers one of the most enormous parking complexes.
There's far too much stuff to do to list so reference the websites below for attractions and most current events. I have pictured here (in order):
Crown Fountain: Millenium Park
Cloud Gate sculpture (nicknamed "The Bean"): Millennium Park
Jay Pritzker Pavillion: Millenium Park
Buckingham Fountain: Grant Park
Millenium Monument, Wrigley Square: Millenium Park
The June, 2011 VT meet happily coincided with the Grant Park Music Festival and our group camped out on the lawn at the pavilion one balmy evening for several hours of classical music: great fun.
Announced this year: Chicago is planning the largest park in the lower 48 states with the addition of 140,000 acres that, when finished, will be 10 times the size of Manhattan. Grant/Millenium parks will be northern-most end of this behemoth to be christened Millennium Reserve.
connects the Millenium Park to the East Monroe Garage (where we parked our vehicle) and Grant Park and again is one of the modern architectural wonders inside the Millenium Park. the bridge is about 935 feet long and curves along to Grant Park so that it spans Columbus Drive to connect Daley Bicentennial Plaza with Millennium Park, both parts of the larger Grant Park. The BP Bridge is donated by the BP petroleum (of the gulf of mexico oil spill fame) which donated 5 million dollars for the construction. The Bridge is closed during winters since it is slippery when wet due to the wooden walkway but the BP Pedestrian Bridge is a good photo ops place in the millenium park with the views of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
provisding seasonal pieces of architecture from local and international sources and was donated by the Boeing Company of Aircrafts fame. The Boeing Gallery lies just across the Crown fountain area which is located a few steps away and the galerries showpieces open art exhibtions which lasts for a few months and are changed periodically and when I was here, they were showcasing various Contemporary Modern Outdoor Art Objects by Chinese Sculptors. The galleries are usually held during summer and springtime and early fall.
providing an architectural food path and bridge connecting the millenium park to the Art Institute of Chicago and like the modern marvels in the Millenium Park Complex, is one of the attractions in it. The Nichols bridgeway begins at the Great Lawn of Millennium Park and it crosses over to Monroe Street and connects to the third floor of the West Pavilion of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago and also great photo oppurtunities while at the middle of the bridge. There is a nearby resto at the Museum once you enter it.
where the famous cloud gate or the Bean is Located and lies between the Mc Comick Tribute Plaza area and Jay Pritzker Pavilion and adjacent to the Chase Promenade, and between the North and South Boeing Galleries. There are not much things to do in the A T & T Plaza section of the Millenium Park but Ogle the Cloud Gate and hang around plus you can eat some hot dogs and some drinks as there are some hot dog carts available inside the Plaza. The A T & T Plaza has become a prime viewing location for Jazz music concerts held during the summer and Christmas Carols During the Winter and to see people eating and having a Brewskie at the Park Grill Plaza in the during summer and fall of which all the activities are done at the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Skating Rink.
It is one of the main highlights on leisurely stroll to this modern Millenium Park and together with the Crowne Fountain, is the most photographed arean of the Millenium Park. The famous "Bean" (which locals call the Cloud Gate) in located in the AT & T Plaza Section of the Millenium Park, facing the Park Grille Restaurants and the Ice Skating Rink and Mc Cormick Tribute Plaza and is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, plus its highly polished exterior has no visible seams and reflects the surroundings perfectly (but it can be very crowded near it as lots of people like us take pictures of the Bean and the reflections in it) and was constructed in 2006 by British-Indian Artist Anish Kapoor. The Structure is 33 feet long and weighs 110 tons.