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Happy 11th Birthday Millennium Park!

Millennium Park opened on this day in 2004! What started out as a massive parking lot and railway station, has transformed into a world-class destination. Each year an estimated 4 million people visit the 25-acre public park filled with public art, music and nature. To celebrate Millennium Park’s 11th birthday we are taking a look at the park’s history, construction and all those “selfies” with Cloud Gate, a.k.a. “the bean.”

The idea for Millennium Park was conceived by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley at his dentist office on Michigan Avenue in 1997. The former mayor looked out the window at the massive parking lot and railway station and the rest is history. 

The parking lot and railway station where Millennium Park now stands (Photo: The City of Chicago)

Cloud Gate was British artist Anish Kapoor's first outdoor art installation in the United States. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is inspired by liquid mercury and is the largest of its kind, measuring at 66-feet long by 33-feet high. The reflective surface is comprised of 168 stainless steel plates. The photo below, courtesy of Chicago Public Library, shows these plates being installed.

Cloud Gate Construction (Photo: Chicago Public Library)

Cloud Gate, commonly referred to as “the bean,” has become a recognized symbol of Chicago. Travelers from around the world make it a must-do to take a photo in the reflection of this stainless steel sculpture. What you probably didn’t know is that these photos are being collected by Walker Sands Communications and featured at www.seenatthebean.com.  

Cloud Gate (Photo: Millennium Park)

The massive green space of Millennium Park above Millennium Garages comprises what is technically one of the world’s largest green roofs, spanning 24.5 acres.

Lurie Garden (Photo: Millennium Park)

Jay Pritzker Pavilion’s unique design is inspired by designer Frank Gehry’s childhood love of fish. As a boy, Gehry’s grandmother would allow him to play with that night’s dinner in the bathtub. The stainless steel curves attached to the stage almost look like fish jumping out of water.

Pritzker Pavilion Construction (Photo: Chicago Public Library

Dozens of bricks and mortar were tested in a Chicago alley when designing Crown Fountain. To achieve the optimum clarity the glass bricks chosen were 5 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 1 7/8 inches thick. 

Testing the LED Display for Crown Fountain (Photo: Chicago Public Library)

Featured Photo:Millennium Park

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