Millennium Park is a popular tourist destination and a cherished Chicago landmark located near Lake Michigan in the Chicago Loop. Its art installations and gardens provide both locals and visitors with a lovely space to walk around and explore. Let's take a closer look at the history of the space that eventually became Millennium Park.

Millennium Park Timeline

1852 Illinois Central Railroad owned the space between downtown Chicago & Lake Michigan.
1871 A baseball park was built on the site, but was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire.
1997 The city of Chicago gained airspace rights over the railroad tracks.
1998 Plans for Millennium Park were officially announced.
1999 Prominent architect Frank Gehry was brought on board.
2000 Expansions were announced, including Cloud Gate and Crown Fountain.
2004 The park was officially opened to the public.
2015 The annual Chicago Christmas tree lighting began being held in the park.
2017 Millennium Park was named the top tourist destination in Chicago and the Midwest.

Books About Millennium Park

  1. Millennium Park: The making of the landmark
  2. Building Art: A biography of Frank Gehry
  3. Millennium Park Chicago: A look at the park's various projects
  4. A City in a Garden: A photographic history of Chicago's Parks
  5. The Crown Fountain: Photographs of and poems about the fountain

Traveling to Chicago

Whether you're on a business trip or a family vacation, you can have a lot of fun as a tourist in The Windy City. But it's important to keep a few things in mind. For one, there's the weather. Be prepared for cold in the winter by bringing along the right clothes and keeping a hot drink close at hand. In the summer, you might want to consider having a way to cool down on a hot day. Chicago is a great walking city, so be prepared with a comfortable pair of shoes. And there's plenty of food around, too. So check out some restaurant reviews to make sure you don't miss out on all the local cuisine.

The Making of Millennium Park

More Information

Millennium Park is a 25-acre tourist destination found in Chicago, Illinois. The place features a collection of public art, landscape design, and modern architecture. It is considered the city's premiere green space and a prominent civic center.

The park is located in the Loop, Chicago's central business district or downtown. It is bordered by Michigan Avenue to the west, Randolph Street to the north, East Monroe Drive to the south, and Columbus Drive to the east.

Millennium Park is situated near the city's Lake Michigan shoreline. It covers the northwestern section of Grant Park.

The large urban area used to be occupied by Illinois Central Railroad. From 1852 to 1997, they owned a right of way between downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.

In 1871, the Chicago White Stockings, a major league baseball team, played games at the site that became Millennium Park. However, the grounds were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, a large and destructive conflagration that occurred in October of the same year.

The baseball team built a new ball ground in 1878, but had to move after a year due to the stipulation of the federal government that the area should not be used by any commercial venture.

Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago, an integration of a series of projects for the city, included the building of Grant Park around the Illinois Central Railroad property.

In 1997, a parking space was built in the northwestern portion of Grant Park. It was created after the city gained airspace rights over the railroad tracks. Soon after, the government realized that a large public amenity might attract private investors. Eventually, the plan to build Millennium Park started.

The original plan for Millennium Park was to build a landscape-covered bridge over the parking facility. Underneath would be the Illinois Central Railroad tracks. At first, the designers were Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, but they brought in more architects and artists, including Frank Gehry and Thomas Beeby.

Construction of the park began in September 1998, six months after the government officially announced the plan to build it. At the time, Frank Gehry was so popular that the Chicago Tribune considered him to be "the hottest architect in the universe." The city negotiated with him to design a pedestrian bridge crossing Columbus Drive, an orchestra enclosure for a band shell, and a proscenium arch.

In April 1999, a donation of 15 million dollars was given by the family of Cindy Pritzker, a philanthropist. An additional 10 million dollars was donated by nine more donors. The money was used to fund Gehry's design.

Richard M. Daley, Chicago's 43rd mayor, was a big influence in finding sponsors to pay for Millennium Park's expansion. When they launched the fundraising, sponsorship was by invitation only, but no one refused the opportunity to contribute to the project.

Millennium Park has four major artistic highlights: the Crown Fountain, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, and the Lurie Garden. It also features the BP Pedestrian Bridge, the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink, the Boeing Galleries, and the Nichols Bridgeway.

Millions of visitors go to Millennium Park each year. Aside from its permanent features, people also visit the place to watch notable events, including the annual Grant Park Music Festival.

The park's location is very ideal for tourists. It was designed to be accessible. Several business establishments are situated around it. There are many hotels nearby, including the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park on North Columbus Drive.

According to Financial Times, Millennium Park is "an extraordinary public space that is set to create new iconic images of the city." It was also described as a "showcase of art and urban design" by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The park is considered one of the world's largest rooftop gardens as it sits atop Millennium Station, a major commuter rail terminal in the city.

In October 2015, Millennium Park was named one of six Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association. It was also the top tourist attraction in Chicago and the Midwest in 2017.

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