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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrA visit to Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture often finds itself on the itinerary of anyone visiting the city. The sculpture has been part of Chicago’s cultural and artistic landscape for nearly a decade and was designed by the Indian artist and winner of the Turner Prize, Anish Kapoor .
Kapoor’s design was chosen as the winner of a competition that included designs from 30 different artists, including Jeff Koons. Construction on Cloud Gate was started shortly before the park opened and the design itself was so technical and complicated that it caused a number of headaches for those constructing it. These concerns were partly to blame for the delay in construction. In fact, when completed, the structure weighed twice as much as had been estimated at the beginning of the project.
While the official name of the sculpture is “Cloud Gate”, you will often find it being referred to as “The Bean” by both locals and visitors due to its form, which is highly reminiscent of a giant chrome bean. When this shape combines with the stainless steel surface of the sculpture, the reflections of the Chicago skyline are warped, much like in a hall of mirrors.
The structure is tall enough for you to walk directly under it. The concave underside of the “bean” is known as the “omphalos” which distorts the reflections significantly more than the other convex parts of the structure. Cloud Gate is a popular site for tourists and will often be surrounded by visitors taking photos in the reflective surface.
Beyond the GateCloud Gate is located in Millennium Park which can be found within the Loop area of Chicago. The park itself is only two years older than the sculpture, having been built in 2004. Nearly 4,000,000 locals and tourists visit the park every year to either walk around the grounds, marvel at Cloud Gate, or to enjoy shows and performances at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion .
Millennium Park was planned before the turn of the century and construction was started in October 1998. Construction took nearly six years and was significantly over budget by the time of the park’s three-day opening ceremony in July, 2004.
The BP Pedestrian Bridge connects the Millennium Park and Daley Bicentennial Plaza and is both aesthetically and architecturally striking. In fact, the bridge is designed to minimize the noise from the road underneath and is also a great place to enjoy wonderful views of the city.
The Lurie Garden is a beautiful part of the park where you can see beautiful floral displays and various types of plant. The highlight of the garden is the “shoulder” hedge that reaches 4.6 meter into the air. If you’d like a guided walk, you should consider visiting the garden on either Fridays or Sundays. Otherwise, you can always take a self-guided tour any day of the year.
If you’re a fan of art, you should definitely make time to head along and visit Jaume Plensa’s “Crown Fountain ”. This impressive art display features giant screens that represent the diversity of Chicago through the faces of its residents. The fountain feature is actually built directly into the screens. In addition to “Crown Fountain”, there are also the Boeing Galleries which feature displays and exhibitions of modern and contemporary artists. The galleries can be found on both sides of the park.
If you feel like stretching your legs, you should take a walk along the Chase Promenade. The promenade stretches for three blocks and often features the aforementioned galleries. Keen cyclists should pay a visit to the McDonald’s Cycle Center where they can either rent bicycles or have their own bicycles serviced or repaired.
Getting to Cloud GateAs one of Chicago’s central attractions, getting to Millennium Park in order to see Cloud Gate is very simple and can be reached using a variety of different forms of transportation.
By CarIf you are driving to Millennium Park, you can aim for any of the streets that border the park. Randolph Street borders the park to the north. Columbus Drive borders the park to the east, Monroe Drive is on the south side, and Michigan Avenue runs down the west of Millennium Park.
By Public TransportAs one of Chicago’s biggest attractions, both Cloud Gate and Millennium Park are served by a number of different buses and the city’s elevated rail lines, known as the “L”.
If you are taking the bus you can take either the 3, 4, 6, 14, 20, 56, 60, 124, 157, and 173. During the week you can also take the 26 and 148 buses. If you are heading to Cloud Gate using the “L”, you should exit at either Madison/Wabash or Randolph/Wabash stations. These stations are around two blocks from the park.
Chicago’s “Metra” commuter also runs to the park and the obviously-named “Millennium Park Station” is where you need to get off the train.
By BicycleCyclists can enjoy the bicycle parking offered by the McDonald’s Cycle Center and reach Cloud Gate and Millennium Park from any of the aforementioned roads and streets that border the park.
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Author: JP_Translation. Last updated: Apr 01, 2015