Millennium Park located in the heart of downtown Chicago , Illinois, is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design built in a unique partnership between the City of Chicago and the philanthropic community. The prominent civic center near the city’s Lake Michigan shoreline covers a 24.5-acre (9.9 ha) section of northwestern Grant Park.
Planning of the Millennium Park started in October 1997 , while construction began in October 1998, and was opened in a ceremony on July 16, 2004, four years behind schedule. The three-day opening celebrations were attended by some 300,000 people and included an inaugural concert by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. The park has received awards for its accessibility and green design. Millennium Park is free of charge .
Millennium Park is a portion of the larger Grant Park, known as the “front lawn” of downtown Chicago, and has four major artistic highlights:
- Jay Pritzker Pavilion – the most sophisticated outdoor concert venue of its kind in the United States
- Cloud Gate
- Crown Fountain – designed by Jaume Plensa
- Lurie Garden
The park is connected by the BP Pedestrian Bridge and the Nichols Bridgeway to other parts of Grant Park. Because the park sits atop a parking garage and the commuter rail Millennium Station, it is considered the world’s largest rooftop garden.
Perhaps the most intriguing of all the art in the park is the Bean or Cloud Gate. The sculpture is made of a series of seamless stainless steel plates that from an ordinary man’s eye looks like the vacuum of a flask. The polished stainless steel is so clear it reflects like a mirror bringing to light a dramatic backdrop of Chicago’s skyline.
Millennium Park is considered to be the city’s most important project since the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and it far exceeded its originally proposed budget of $150 million. The final cost of $475 million was borne by Chicago taxpayers and private donors.
Millennium Park Welcome Center
Admission is free of charge . Visitors are encouraged to make the Millennium Park Welcome Center their first stop at the Park where specialists are available to help plan their Park visit. The Welcome Center is located at 201 E. Randolph Street in the Northwest Exelon Pavilion.The Park is open daily from 6am – 11pm while the Welcome Center is open daily from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. During the summer season , parties of 10 or less can enjoy a free walking tour of Chicago’s 24.5-acre, award-winning Millennium Park . These 45 minute tours depart every day at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and provide a delightful introduction to the Park’s art and architecture.
This mesmerizing place attracts millions of visitors every year and has something for everyone. Millenium Park became in a relative short period of time one of the most popular attractions in Chicago.
At Millennium Park , Chicago you can experience everything from interactive public art and ice skating to al fresco dining and free classical music presentations by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.