Tourists staying in the budget or discount hotels near Millennium Park in Chicago are just a walk or a short transit ride away from one of the Windy City’s greatest public works projects. Millennium Park is in the northwest corner of Grant Park, and is bordered by Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. Its construction went hundreds of millions of dollars over the original cost estimate, and it took four years longer to complete than had been initially planned. But many Chicagoans believe the price and the wait were worth it. Millennium Park is 24.5 acres of gorgeous landscaping, classically elegant architecture, and splendid public entertainment spaces, including a skating rank and a theater. It’s hard to believe it was built over an old railway yard.
The center piece of Millennium Park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a band shell designed by Frank Gehry. It is crowned by 679 interlocking stainless steel panels that form a trellis. The pavilion seats 4,000 and a lawn the size of three football fields accommodates an additional 7,000. The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra stages concerts here throughout the summer. Also worth seeing are the kidney shaped sculpture Cloud Gate, and the Wrigley Square Peristyle. At the spectacular Crown Fountain children can play in the water between giant faces projected onto video screens. Walking tours are available from Memorial Day through October. Ask for information at the Welcome Center.
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