Millennium Park is located in the northwest corner of Grant Park, a public park known as Chicago’s “front yard” situated in the central business district of the Loop Community area. The land on which the park is located was under the auspices of the Illinois Central Railroad from the mid-1800s until the end of the 1900s. Renovation began in this corner of Grant Park in 1998 to commemorate the millennium.
Millennium Park is nearly 25 acres in size and features fountains, gardens, sculptures, and world-class performance venues. It opened in 2004 and has garnered awards for architecture, landscape design, music, and art. Admission is free to Millennium Park, which is connected to other parts of Grant Park by the Nichols Bridgeway and the BP Pedestrian Bridge.
One of the most popular attractions is Cloud Gate, known locally by many simply as the Jelly Bean. It is an elliptical stainless steel statue meant to symbolize liquid mercury. It was designed and positioned to reflect uniquely the surrounding area and downtown skyline.
Two fifty-foot towers known collectively as Crown Fountain feature cascading water down its sides into a reflecting pool. The towers display the changing video images of 1,000 Chicagoans, whose faces remain on the tower in sequential turns of 13 minutes each. Across from Crown Fountain is the Boeing Gallery, which showcases art periodically-changing exhibitions that are usually held in spring, summer, and fall.
Additionally, the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus perform three times a week during the summer at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, one of the most spectacular outdoor concert sites in the country. There are more no-charge events, such as classical, gospel, and jazz concerts here, as well.
Another venue includes the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink and Plaza, an outdoor site where ice-skating rules in winter and dining out reigns in summer. The rink is 16,000 square feet and is open from mid-November to mid-March. Park Grille restaurant, located on the plaza, is an excellent place for summer dining while enjoying the concerts. The Plaza is also great for enjoying Christmas carols during the holidays.
The Nichols Bridgeway is an attraction in and of itself. From the Great Lawn, it connects Millennium Park to the Art Institute of Chicago by crossing over Monroe Street, peaking at a height of 60 feet. Plenty of opportunities to snap photos abound on the bridge, especially in the center.
The BP Pedestrian Bridge is another attraction simply on its own merit. It is armored in stainless steel panels, which buffers noise from traffic below. It connects Millennium Park to the East Monroe Garage. Over 900 feet long, the bridge is a perfect place for running, strolling, or taking photographs.
Another popular attraction is McDonald’s Cycle Center, where visitors to the park can rent bikes and take bike tours. Other amenities include bike repair, lockers, showers, and secure bike parking.
There are numerous other attractions in Millennium Park – including Lurie Garden, Boeing Galleries, Chase Promenade, and Harris Theater. Whatever your tastes, Millennium Park is Chicago’s place to be for Arts, Music and a little, and sometimes a lot, of everything in between.