Millennium Park, a fixture in Chicago since 2004, is a green wonderland tucked in-between Lake Michigan and Chicago's towering skyscrapers. It's not just any park, either. It's an iconic park befitting of its iconic Chicago location. Located along Michigan Avenue and marked by giant sculptures, it's become a signature landmark of the city.
But there are a lot things you don't know about this beautiful public green space. Like a season of Real Housewives, it takes a careful hindsight analysis to get the full picture. So let's gather everyone for a reunion and flip some tables on this peaceful place, because I am about to blow your mind with 10 things you didn't know about Millennium Park.
"The Bean" is not actually named "The Bean."
Yeah, this one's a doozy, isn't it? Our beloved metal "Bean" is not intended to be a bean at all. It's actually called Cloudgate and was designed by British artist Anish Kapoor.
15 years ago, Millennium Park was covered with railroad tracks.
This prime downtown real estate used to be a prime downtown railroad yard. In Chicago's design heyday, visionary genius Daniel Burnham believed he could not undermine the railroad's influence on the area. Therefore, he planned Grant Park in such a way to leave what is now Millennium Park under rail control. In 1997, Mayor Richard M. Daley proposed a new use for the land.
Crown Fountain is inspired by the use of gargoyle faces in traditional city plans.
Artist Jaume Plensa was inspired by the faces of gargoyles on prominent buildings and architectural pieces, particularly fountains. Plensa wanted to adapt this motif to include Chicago residents.
Wrigley Square and Millennium Monument pay homage to a real peristyle that existed in that area from 1917 to 1953.
The monument is built to the same scale as the original peristyle and has the names of Millennium Park sponsors etched on its base.
You can take a free tour of the park.
Right? The words "free" and "downtown" rarely go together, but it's possible within the borders of the majestic Millennium Park. Every day from 11:30AM to 1PM from May to October, free tours are conducted for groups of 10 on a first-come, first-serve basis. Meet at the Millennium Park Welcome Center at 201 E. Randolph.
The park was designed specifically with accessibility in mind.
Key elements of the park were designed to provide an active, enjoyable, and safe experience for visitors with disabilities. The slope on the BP Bridge was tailored to the safest slope levels for wheelchairs, while the Crown Fountain is tailored so that wheelchairs can actually enter the fountain area, details many city planners neglect. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is equipped with assisted listening devices and seamlessly integrated wheelchair seating.
Between the months of May and September, Millennium Park holds concerts almost every night of the week.
From jazz to indie rock, Millennium Park's concert series has something for everyone. For a lineup of upcoming events, click here.
Many of these concerts are free.
Almost all of them, in fact. I really love free things. Again, for a detailed lineup, click here.
You can take a shower at Millennium Park.
No, seriously, a real shower, not just one where you misstep into one of the fountains. The McDonald's Cycle Center is equipped with all kind of amenities for two-wheeled inclined park-goers. You can rent bicycles or Segways, put your valuables in lockers, and yes, take a shower with soap and everything!
The Lurie Garden is free-draining.
This means that excess water drains off into the sewage system rather than being absorbed by the soil before it is needed, assuring that the garden's care does not waste water.
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