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U.S.A.: Chicago Millennium Park

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Chicago Millennium Park | U.S.A. | Americas

[Visited: June 2009]

Walking towards Millennium Park, I felt the heat of the Chicago summer, and realized I was overdressed for this kind of temperature. Hopefully, the Park will give me some shelter from the heat. As I walked through the underpass at Columbus Drive, I saw a silvery, artsy bridge, and that was my first stop. This is the pedestrian bridge allowing access from the lakefront to Millennium Park, which I entered by just crossing into the park over the grass and pulling aside a fence. I noticed a steel net-like roof in the sky, covering the Great Lawn which provides ample space for an audience of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, where open-air concerts are given on a very regular basis in summer.

Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Bridge to Millennium Park

Millennium Park was - unsurprisingly - supposed to open in 2000, but because of financial problems, the Park did not open until 2004. It lies to the south of the city, and has become one of the prime sights of the Windy City. In winter, you can skate here, in summer, it is a great place to have something to eat outside. You can go for a stroll in Lurie Garden, you can use the bridge to the Art Institute of Chicago (from where you have a great view over Millennium Park and the skyline of Chicago), and enjoy some outdoor art. One of the most striking examples is the Crown Fountain designed by Jaume Plensa: two square towers, separated by a black granite floor, from which water runs down in summer, providing a refreshing shower for whoever dares to stand under it - a favourite for children seeking to cool down. What is more: LEDs inside the glass-brick towers emit faces of Chicagoans and natural scenes; every now and then, water spouts from the lower part of the towers onto the exhilarated crowd below.

Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): View of Millennium Park from the walkway to the Art Institute of Chicago

Undoubtedly the most remarkable work of art in Millennium Park is the Cloud Gate - which was renamed to the Bean almost instantly after its inauguration in 2004. This is a true masterpiece of art: simple, yet very effective and attractive to a wide public. No wonder: the perfectly smooth surface of this curvaceous piece of stainless steel is a very interesting piece of interactive art. Created by Anish Kapoor, the Cloud Gate consists of 168 plates of stainless steel but appears to be made from one piece. From a distance, it reflects part of the skyline of Chicago. The closer you get, the more you see of yourself - until you become really tall. But this is not all. You can actually walk under the piece of art, and the views from under the Cloud Gate are fantastic: you see many reflections of reflections and as you move under the work of art and look up, you see the square tiles of the floor, and you can see yourself many times over in a warped image of reality. This is a fantasy world come true.

Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Looking up at the ceiling of the Bean can make you dizzy
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Sky, skyline and park reflected in the Cloud Gate or Bean
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Open-air ceiling of the Great Lawn with the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): People reflected in the Bean, officially called Cloud Gate
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Distorted view of the world inside the Bean
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Art you can walk through: temporary display at Millennium Park
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Boy wondering at the effects of the reflection of the Bean
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Chicago reflected in the Bean
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Having a shower under one of the water towers at Crown Fountain
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): One of the many Chicago faces on a huge LED display at Crown Fountain
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Chicago family walking on water in Millennium Park
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Girl cooling down on a hot summer day
Picture of Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.): Chinese art on display in Millennium Park

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Chicago Millennium Park (U.S.A.). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Chicago Millennium Park.
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