Millennium Park, Chicago
Opened in July 2004 and destined to become a Chicago landmark and a major visitor attraction, Millennium Park occupies 24.5 acres in the heart of Chicago’s downtown. But the park is much more than green grass. It contains an outdoor performing arts pavilion, an indoor year-round theater, a restaurant, an ice-skating rink, a contemporary garden, public art, fountains, a promenade area for special events, and landscaped walkways and green spaces.
One of the park’s focal points is the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the most sophisticated outdoor concert venue in the United States. Connected to the pavilion is the only Gehry-designed bridge in the world, which links visitors to Daley Bicentennial Plaza and toward Chicago’s lakefront.
Joining the pavilion as a performing arts venue is the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance. This indoor theater presents cultural events year-round.
Cloud Gate is a huge sculpture by the British artist Anish Kapoor. Measuring 66 feet long by 33 feet high, the sculpture will reflect the activity and lights of the park and the surrounding skyline. It’s nickname is The Bean
The Crown Fountain designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa is an interactive fountain features light, water and video images reflected off glass bricks.
The park also features a contemporary ornamental garden. The Lurie Garden showcases 240 varieties of perennials, water cascades and a dramatically lit, 15-foot-high hedge. It was commissioned to Seattle-based landscape designer Kathryn Gustafson.
Of interest to those who may want to hold special events in the park is the Bank One Promenade. This walkway crosses the park, providing an area for activities such as ethnic festivals, fairs, and exhibitions. The 300-seat Park Grill restaurant and the ice-skating rink on the McCormick Tribune Plaza are also possibilities for special event venues.
In addition, the park includes the tree-lined commons area of Wrigley Square, which is anchored by the Millennium Monument (Peristyle). This open space allows a quiet space for visitors to relax.
The $475 million Millennium Park was made possible by the City of Chicago and many generous private donors. It is located between Michigan Avenue and the lakefront in the north end of Grant Park. Since its debut in 2004, Millennium Park has hosted millions of people, making it one of the most popular destinations in Chicago.
Among the public art and spectacular Jay Pritzker Pavilion sits the Lurie Garden. Designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichols Ltd., Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel, this 2.5-acre garden was inspired by Chicago’s transformation from flat and marshy origins to a bold and powerful city. Highlights of the garden include the dramatically lit, 15-foot-high “shoulder hedge.” This physical representation of Sandburg’s famous description of the “City of Big Shoulders” encloses the garden on two sides and protects the delicate perennial garden. A graceful hardwood footbridge over shallow water divides the garden diagonally between “light” and “dark” plates of perennial plants
Millennium Park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (hours for special events sponsored by the City of Chicago in cooperation with the Chicago Park District may vary).
Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance
The Harris Theater Box office is located at 205 East Randolph Drive, in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park, Chicago
The fountain, one of the largest in the world, constructed of Georgia pink marble. Every hour on the hour for 20 minutes the fountain produces a major water display and the center jet shoots 150 feet into the air.
Beginning at dusk, every hour on the hour for 20 minutes the fountain’s major water display is accompanied by a major light and music display.
The final display of the evening begins at 10:00 p.m. The fountain operates from April 1st to November 1st depending on weather and runs from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily.
Buckingham Fountain’s renovation was completed in 2009 and the costs were approx. 25 Mio US-Dollar. Re-opened on 1. April 2009.
Columbus Drive (301 East) and Congress Parkway (500 South) in Grant Park.