So far in this monthly series, I’ve taken us once to Asia, once to Europe, and three times to Latin America. The most recent entry transported Loyal Readers to roaring Iguassu Falls, at the “Triple Frontier” of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
But it is officially summer as I write this, and I thought I would take us to a site near my hometown that looks great during the summer months, a site that, despite its name, celebrates its 11th anniversary: Millennium Park, Chicago.
Millennium Park has won several urban design awards for its transformation from a massive parking lot on the edge of rail grounds near Grant Park to the conversation piece that it is today. Most visitors to the park head for Cloud Gate, an already-iconic, mirrored steel sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor. For obvious reasons, it is more affectionately referred to by almost everyone as “The Bean.”
“The Bean” can reflect the city’s landmark buildings, as in the top photo, or it can offset/complement them, as seen in the shot just above this paragraph. People who have visited Chicago but don’t recognize the tall sun-drenched building on the upper right should know that you’re looking at Trump Tower. Yes, *that* Trump.
This striking construction appears unfinished to the unfamiliar eye. Rather, it is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, located a stone’s throw from Cloud Gate. Designed by Frank Gehry, the pavilion covers a grassy lawn that plays host to countless summer concerts and open-air movie nights.
The cascading jets of Crown Fountain, photographed above, highlight a popular spot for kids of all ages to cool off during a hot summer day. When the 50-foot LED woman on the monitor opens her mouth (she was recorded and her smiling visage – and that of others – runs for roughly 60 seconds), she will “spit” a fountain of water onto anyone standing below.
Roughly speaking, Millennium Park runs from Michigan Avenue in the west to Columbus Drive in the east, and from Randolph Street in the north to Monroe Street in the south. This picture, taken on a cloudless summer twilight in 2011, was taken from the Nichols Bridgeway, looking north towards Trump Tower and the Aon Center – the second and third-tallest buildings in the city. The pedestrian bridge connects Millennium Park with the Art Institute of Chicago.
Lurie Garden is located beneath the Nichols Bridgeway. Although this green space seems relatively small when seen on a map, it actually encompasses five acres and features a variety of native and imported plants and blooms, as well as a serene, man-made stream. Shutterbugs report that the garden’s tulip bulbs are quite the spectacle in early May.
The Michigan Avenue-facing block of Millennium Park between Washington and Madison Streets features one of the city’s most beloved cold-weather attractions: The McCormick Tribune Plaza Ice Rink. Ice skating is free and the rink was the first feature of Millennium Park to open and remains its most popular.
“The Bean” is a striking feature of Millennium Park even in winter. Below the sculpture is the Park Grill, which sells hot cocoa to skaters in the winter and features a full menu during warmer months.
Fancy a visit to Millennium Park? Visit the park’s website for more information.
All pictures were taken with a Nikon DSLR camera. All images are the property of GringoPotpourri unless credited otherwise, and should be used with permission only.