Millennium Park. Urban Park in Chicago, Illinois

Millennium Park

Urban Park in Chicago, Illinois

Millennium Park, Chicago, IL Photo © Maciej Ciupa

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Millennium Park

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Millennium Park - Millennium Park
Millennium Park - Millennium Park. Photo by Brook Ward
Millennium Park is a public park on the northwestern edge of Chicago’s Grant Park that was designed in celebration of the new millennium. It is located near Lake Michigan and borders Michigan Avenue, one of the city’s most important streets. It is also the city’s second most popular tourist attraction after Navy Pier, and is known for its fascinating architectural wonders, its public artwork, and its gardens. Its most famous features include the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, and the Lurie Garden. Even if you’re only visiting Chicago for a few hours, Millennium Park is a must-see attraction.

History

Millennium Park consists of a nearly 25-acre section of Grant Park. In the late 19th century, the site was the home of the Union Base-Ball Grounds, the home of the Chicago White Stockings (Wikipedia Article) baseball team, which eventually became the Chicago Cubs. However, the grounds were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire (Wikipedia Article). Decades later, the city decided that it the space should be redesigned as a new public park in honor of the new millennium. Though it was not completed in time for the arrival of the new millennium, it was opened to the public in 2004 and has since become one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Cloud Gate in Chicago - Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate in Chicago. Photo by David Iliff

Highlights

Whether you pick a grassy area to have a picnic, marvel at your reflection while viewing Cloud Gate, or play in the water of the Crown Fountain, you’re sure to enjoy your visit to Millennium Park.

Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate
One of the park’s most popular attractions is Cloud Gate, a sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor (Wikipedia Article) that is affectionately known as The Bean due to its bean-like shape. Its striking stainless steel surface reflects the Chicago skyline in fascinating ways. It’s definitely an attraction you’ll want your camera for, especially to take photos of the multiple reflections of yourself in its concave underside. While it certainly does look like a giant silver bean, it was actually inspired by liquid mercury.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a bandshell designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry (Wikipedia Article), who is most known for his design of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. This awe-inspiring architectural work is considered to be the centerpiece of the park. In addition to being a beautiful stainless steel architectural piece, the pavilion is used for outdoor performances throughout the year. It is most popularly known as the site of the Grant Park Music Festival, the only free outdoor classical music series in the United States.

Pritzker
	Pavilion Millennium Park - Millennium Park
Pritzker Pavilion Millennium Park. Photo by Chris Smith


Crown Fountain

Chicago - The Loop:
	Millennium Park - Crown Fountain - Millennium Park
Chicago - The Loop: Millennium Park - Crown Fountain - Millennium Park. Photo by Wally Gobetz
The Crown Fountain is another popular piece of public art located in Millennium Park. It features two 50-foot tall glass brick towers with a black granite reflecting pool between them. Between May and October, water cascades down the towers while LEDs behind the glass bricks display video segments of faces. Every five minutes or so, the person on display puckers their lips, which appears to cause water to spout from the towers and onto the ground below. The fountain is especially popular in the summertime as an escape from the city’s sweltering heat, since children love to play in the water and wait for the giant spouts of water to appear.

Lurie Garden

This beautiful 2.5-acre garden features dozens of beautiful trees, flowers, and plants that are often visited by birds and butterflies. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing walk on a nice day.

BP Pedestrian Bridge

Another feature of the park designed by architect Frank Gehry is the BP Pedestrian Bridge, a serpentine girder footbridge that connects Millennium Park with Maggie Daley Park. Just like the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, its features the use of stainless steel plates and was cleverly designed as a noise barrier to protect the pavilion from the sounds of traffic on Columbus Drive. However, it is closed in the winter because it is not possible to remove the ice from its wooden walkway.

Wrigley Square

This square in the northwest corner of the park is home to the Millennium Monument, a semicircle of columns that used to be located on the same site in Grant Park in the early 20th century.

McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink / Park Grill

In the wintertime, you can visit the McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink, the first attraction that opened in Millennium Park. Its free public outdoor ice skating rink is usually open between mid-November and mid-March. During the rest of the year, it is used as the Park Grill, the largest open-air dining facility in the city, which provides delicious burgers and beautiful park views.

A View of Millennium Park - Millennium
	Park
A View of Millennium Park. Photo by Chris Smith

Practical Information

Millennium Park is easy to reach on foot, by bike or using public transportation due to its prime location in the heart of Chicago’s “Loop” area. The nearest Metra commuter train station is Millennium, while the nearest ‘L’ stop is Randolph/Wabash, accessible from the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple Lines.

Address: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602
Hours: The park is open daily between 6:00 and 23:00.

Similar Landmarks

Other notable parks in the United States include Lincoln Park in Chicago, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Central Park in New York City.

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Author: ehuttner. Last updated: Apr 21, 2015

Pictures of Millennium Park

The McCormick Tribune Plaza Ice Rink - Millennium Park
The McCormick Tribune Plaza Ice Rink - Millennium Park. Photo by Jonathan

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