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.
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.
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.
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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