Chicago: Millennium Park 2011/09/15

Opening in July 2004, hosting over 525 free events each year, Millennium Park is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design. The 24.5-acre Millennium Park is bordered by Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the north and Monroe Street to the south. The park consists of a dozen attractions spread over five distinct regions. The effect is to create an urban playground of what was once only a rail yard. In fact, when one is strolling through the apparently natural grass of Millennium Park, it is hard to believe what is going on beneath.

The park consists of the following major facilities:

Cloud Gate — referred to by locals as “The Bean"

Cloud Gate is British artist Anish Kapoor’s first outdoor work installed in the United States. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect Chicago’s famous skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a “gate" to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives. When this was unveiled in July of 2004, it immediately became a beloved symbol of the city. Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind in the world, measuring 66-feet long, 33-feet high and 42-feet wide.

                                                                                      A walk under its nine-foot-tall arch can be a mind-bending experience.

                                                                                      Jay Pritzker Pavilion—Designed by Frank Gehry, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of the world’s most state-of-the-art outdoor music pavilions. The Pavilion stands 120-feet high, with a billowing headdress of brushed stainless steel ribbons that frame the stage opening and connect to an overhead trellis of crisscrossing steel pipes. The trellis supports the sound system, which spans the 4,000 fixed seats and the Great Lawn, which accommodates an additional 7,000 people. People sitting close to the stage hear the orchestra live. People on the Great Lawn hear an electronically delayed reproduction of the music delivered in time to coincide with the delay of echoed sound coming from the stage.

                                                                                                        The Crown Fountain—Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain consists of two 50-foot high glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting 232-foot long pool. The faces of 1,000 Chicagoans are projected on giant screens one at a time. At the end of each person’s display, they purse their lips and water shoots out of their mouths.

                                                                                                               BP Pedestrian Bridge—Connecting Millennium Park to Daley Bicentennial Plaza, east of the park, this 925-foot-long winding bridge, is the first bridge designed by architect Frank Gehry, and also doubles as a sound barrier from the traffic of Columbus Drive. It also has a 5% slope to allow easy access for people who are physically challenged. The deck is made of nice tactile wood while the rest of the bridge is framed in curving futuristic aluminum. It appears as thought the ends of the bridge are lined with pleasant shrubs, but in reality these are the tops of trees planted far below.

McCormick Tribune Plaza

Opened December 20, 2001, the plaza operates as 16,000 square foot McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, a free public outdoor ice skating rink that is generally open four months a year, from mid-November until mid-March. In the summer, visitors can enjoy al fresco dining on the plaza at the Park Grill Restaurant.

chicago                                         Wrigley Square—Located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street is anchored by the Millennium Monument, a nearly full-sized replica of the original colonnade that stood in the same location between 1917 and 1953. With its graceful semi-circular row of Doric-style columns that rise nearly 40 feet, the Millennium Monument ties the past to the present and supports the designation of Michigan Avenue as a landmark district.

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