Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Grant Park & Millenium Park

We walked through parts of Grant Park and Millenium Park (you can find out more about both of them -- and many others -- at a website for the Chicago Park District) both going to and coming from The Field museum.

The Buckingham fountain is arguably the most famous part of Grant Park (remember Married with Children? It's the fountain you see in the opening sequence). I didn't get a picture of that because a) the first time we went through it was crawling with marathon runners and you could hardly see it and b) on the way back, it was crawling with workers dismantling tents and bleachers and thinks like that.

But I did get some pictures of these other fountains that I didn't even know were in Grant Park. They are a little overshadowed, I suppose, considering the size of the big fountain.

I thought these were quite pretty.

The park system in Chicago is actually really nice, especially this stretch along the waterfront. It was created in order to keep commercial interests from completely taking over the area and it was a great idea. The waterfront is pretty and accessible to everyone.

Millenium Park kind of runs into Grant Park. It's right off of Michigan Avenue and really takes center stage. There are gardens (including a rather strange tree garden area where the trees are all fenced in) and famous statues (like the Bean) and an amphitheater type area where concerts and various other things are held.
There are also the fountains -- officially the Crown Fountain. I'm not sure why it is called that; I always just think of it as the faces.

Also officially, here's the description of them:

The fountain consists of two 50-foot glass block towers at each end of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out.

Plensa adapted this practice by having faces of Chicago citizens projected on LED screens and having water flow through a water outlet in the screen to give the illusion of water spouting from their mouths. The collection of faces, Plensa's tribute to Chicagoans, was taken from a cross-section of 1,000 residents.

There are always, when the fountain is running, a ton of kids at the fountain splashing around and dodging the spray and generally having a great time. It's a good place for people watching. When the spout of water comes out, I dare you not to smile.

As an added bonus, if the weather is really hot, the water feels great on your feet. We walked around it a little.

There are some other things in the park as well and there's almost always something going on there (children's tents with activities, salsa dance classes, you name it). It's one of my favorite spots in the city.

As a bonus, it's within walking distance of the big shopping district (Magnificent Mile) and a bunch of restaurants AND Union Station.

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