Millennium Park | The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago
There is beauty in the innovative design of Millennium Park, which opened in 2004 as a belated celebration of the new millennium. Before it was a park visited by millions of people each year, it was a rail yard and a parking lot, but the city made plans to transform the area into a beautiful public park beginning in the 1990s. Architecture critic Blair Kamin called the park the “best thing former Mayor Richard M. Daley ever did.” Thanks to a team of world-class architects and artists, there are several magnificent works of art in the park. There is, of course, the Bean, officially titled Cloud Gate, which reflects both the sky and the skyline in the 168 stainless steel plates that were welded together. It is the work of artist Anish Kapoor, and it wasn’t actually finished when the park opened. To Kapoor’s dismay, the seams between the plates were still visible when the park opened in 2004, but it was covered back up until it was finished and dedicated a couple years later. There’s also Crown Fountain, an interactive video display and fountain, which highlights one of the most beautiful things about the city of Chicago: its people. Spanish artist Jaume Plensa worked with some 1,000 Chicagoans to act as modern gargoyles with water spouting from their mouths. The shallow black granite reflecting pool has become a kind of splash pad, too, with kids and adults alike playing in the water in warmer months. For quieter moments, there are the colorful native plants in Lurie Garden, and for more musical moments, there is an outdoor, public concert venue in Pritzker Pavilion. Architect Frank Gehry designed the pavilion (in addition to the pedestrian bridge in the park), a 120-foot, steel “headdress” that got around the height restrictions in Grant Park since it was considered a work of art rather than a building. Today, the entire park remains as much a display of beautiful art as it is a public greenspace.