1839. Chicago is just in its infancy. There were no skyscrapers, no Magnificent Mile, not even the Drake Hotel. But the city had an aesthetic aspect that its founders fell in love with: Lake Michigan and the lakefront landscape.
Even in the early planning stages of the city, they identified the importance of the lakefront parks and in 1844, the city designated land east of Michigan Ave and south of Randolph Street to be a public park. The land was marked with, “Public ground. Forever to remain vacant of buildings.” Forever? They couldn’t expect people to keep such beautiful ground open to the public forever. Could they?
But they did, withstanding many attempts over the past 150 years by those who tried to build. And today, of the 29 miles of lakefront, all but four miles are public parkland.
There’s many a location along these 29 miles that can be noted as the most beautiful, scenic, peacefull, exciting, or otherwise, but there’s one spot that may be just a bit more amazing than the rest, according to some of the critics—- Millennium Park. When this attraction opened in 2004, it received the “Best Public Space” Award from Travel and Leisure, the “Project of the Year” Award from the American Public Works Association and is thought by many to be the city’s most important project since the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The park only trails Navy Pier as Chicago’s largest tourist attraction.
Located on Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, just a Magnificent Mile south of The Drake, Millennium Park is the perfect vacation from your vacation.
Any given day in Millennium Park, rain or shine, day or night, warm or cold, is sure to stimulate all of your senses. A typical summer day could be spent anywhere in the park including:
The beautiful 2.5 acre Lurie Garden, which is the world’s largest green roof
The 50 foot tall, video and water attraction, Crown Fountain
“The Bean” (formal name, CloudGate, although even some of the locals don’t know this), for a picture – bet you won’t take just one
The Park Grill Restaurant to grab a delicious bite to eat, or you can get a “picnic-to-go”
The McDonald’s Cycle Center, to rent a bike for the day, with plenty of bike trails around the park and lakefront.
The Pritzker Pavilion or Great Lawn, enjoying a free musical performance. The summer music schedule is now available.
The Harris Theater for Music and Dance, for a ballet (the New York and San Francisco have been recent performers), a concert or an opera
For a map of the park, click here.
And of course, for a more detailed descrption of the events happening this summer and all year long in Millenium Park, please visit the city of Chicago’s official tourism site.