From large-scale contemporary masterpieces to accents of Chicago's beginnings, Millennium Park poetically captures the Chicago experience. It's more than beautiful structures and enormous sculptures, it captures our city's history.
Millennium Park sits on space that was previously occupied by rail yards and
parking lots. It doesn't take a guided tour through Lurie Garden to see that it's
come a long way.
Construction of Millennium Park began in 1998. Through a massive civic
effort, generous private donations and six years of tireless work, it
ceremoniously opened on July 16, 2004. The three day grand opening attracted
300,000 visitors and featured and inaugural concert from the Grant Park
Orchestra and Chorus. Since then, the popularity and development of the area
has contributed to Millennium Park's becoming the second most popular tourist
attraction in Illinois (Navy Pier is No. 1).
The original plan called for a 16-acre park and a Beaux Arts-inspired
outdoor music venue. Over time, things changed. Through public support, private
sector involvement and with world-famous architect Frank Gehry committed to the
effort, Millennium Park became a much more ambitious and worthwhile
Today, the park is 25 acres, contains some of the greatest public art pieces in the world and is a
wonderfully remarkable achievement for Chicago.
JAY PRITZKER PAVILION
The plan for Frank Gehry's bandshell auditorium was released in early 2000,
after the city announced its expansion of the park and some $25M in private
donations. The centerpiece of Millennium Park is known for its trademark
curving plates and stainless steel beams. With room for 11,000 visitors and a
state-of-the-art sound system, the Pavilion is a popular live performance venue
for visitors and locals.
Anish Kapoor's first public sculpture in the United States came as the
result of $26M in private donations and, well, a giant headache. Composed of
close to 200 stainless steel plates and weighing 100 tons, Cloud Gate faced
numerous technological and upkeep issues before being unveiled in early 2005.
Thankfully, Kapoor and a team of experts ironed out early shortcomings and,
ultimately, created one of Chicago's signature landmarks.
Conceptual artist Jaume Plensa's interactive, larger-than-life video
sculpture was unveiled in the in July of 2004. Crown Fountain has grown to
become a summertime favorite for Chicago's young visitors and locals who play
in the reflective pool and pair of cascading fountains.
Designed by Kathryn Gustafson, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel, this renowned
green space keeps Chicago in touch with its "City in a Garden"
nickname. The area features a combination of perennials, bulbs, shrubs and
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
As a year-round destination, Millennium Park offers many new activities and
festivals and even some of Chicago's oldest traditions.
In 2004, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion began hosting the Grant Park Music Festival, a ten week classic
musical concert series. The event began during the Great Depression to provide
Chicagoans a free and positive means of escapism. Today, it's billed as the
nation's only outdoor, totally free classical music series.
Wrigley Square and Millennium Monument anchors the green
space. The semi-circular row of columns is inspired by the original set of
Doric columns that bookended the northwest corner of Grant Park between 1917 and 1953.