Today, we visit Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, which each year draw millions of people, including families, to the heart of Chicago.
Millennium Park lies just west of Lake Michigan, between Randolph and East Monroe streets. Named for the third millennium, the 25-acre park opened in 2004, four years behind schedule.
The park cost $475 million to construct, about half provided by private donors in exchange for naming rights. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion features a band shell designed by architect Frank Gehry, with 4,000 permanent seats and lawn space for 7,000 more. The AT&T plaza features “Cloud Gate,” a three-story sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor. Nicknamed “The Bean” because of its shape, the sculpture, made from 168 sheets of polished stainless steel, reflects the nearby skyline. Crown Fountain, named for Chicago’s Crown Family, includes a black granite reflecting pool between two glass brick towers. The 50-foot-tall towers display videos of the faces of about 1.000 Chicagoland residents, with water appearing to flow from the subject’s mouth about every five minutes. The 2.5-acre Lurie Garden, named for philanthropist Anne Lurie, features perennials, trees, grasses, shrubs and trees.
Maggie Daley Park is named for the wife of longtime Chicago Mayor Richard Michael Daley. She died of cancer in 2011. Lying between Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive, the 20-acre park is linked to Millennium Park by the BP Pedestrian Bridge, a winding footbridge over Columbus Drive. The park includes many attractions for families and children, including a quarter-mile ice-skating ribbon, rock-climbing walls, tennis courts and a miniature golf course featuring Chicago highlights. A 3-acre Play Garden for children 12 and under includes the popular Enchanted Forest.
In 2021, Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park collectively attracted about 25 million visitors, making them among the top 10 most popular destinations in the United States.