Posted 7 years ago in Then and Now, Landmarks by Margaret Urso
What once began as a railroad and parking lot is now one of the most iconic places in the city of Chicago: Millennium Park. It has been 12 years since Millennium Park opened, so we have come up with a list of 12 fun facts, in honor of each year that the park has been open.
The park opened on July 16, 2004 with a Three-Day festival of concerts, tours, activities and more that attracted thousands of guests.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley had the idea of Millennium Park because his dentist’s office on Michigan Avenue overlooked the parking lot and railroad station that used to be where the park sits today.
Millennium Park was almost named “Garden of the Arts.” However, John Bryan, the former CEO of Sara Lee, wanted the park to be called Millennium Park. He was quoted saying, “I don’t want to meet anyone at a place called Garden of the Arts…It’s going to be Millennium Park.”
Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean, is inspired by liquid mercury. The sculpture was built to reflect both the sky and the Chicago skyline. It gets wiped down and power washed daily, and twice a year it gets a thorough cleaning with 40 gallons of liquid detergent.
The Millennium Parking Garages and a railroad yard can be found underneath Millennium Park, making it one of the largest green roofs in the world.
The park was originally supposed to be 16 acres, which is 8.5 acres smaller than what it actually is.
Millennium Park is Chicago’s second most visited tourist attraction.
Pritzker Pavilion and the BP Pedestrian Bridge were both designed by Frank Gehry, a Canadian-born American architect.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion has a capacity of 11,000. Its state-of-the-art sound system, the first of its kind in the world, mimics the acoustics of an indoor concert hall.
Each tower of Crown Fountain consists of 10,000 glass bricks, and the faces of 1,000 Chicagoans appear on the fountain.
There are free tours of Millennium Park offered daily from the end of May to early October.
Millennium Park offers free WiFi, which is great for the data-conscientious visitor, especially those looking to share pictures and videos of their adventures at Millennium Park on social media.