I think many of you might remember, that in those early posts of mine, I would only add one picture to each one of my posts. There are many of those posts that I would (retrospectively) like to go back and add many more pictures than just the single one I used to post at the time. Everyone seems to enjoy the increased numbers of photos that I started adding at several bloggers requests sometime last summer. This is one of those that definitely needs more photos and even more time for discussion.
If you remember it, it was in fact the one I posted about Millennium Park back then, of Mrs. LZ and me standing on what “is known as” the BP Pedestrian Bridge. It was really one of the most unique footbridges I have even been on in a city anywhere that I can recall. This is the first bridge designed by architect Frank Gehry, and also doubles as a sound barrier from the traffic of Columbus Drive. Designed in such a way as to provide a smooth transition over Columbus Drive, the bridge does exactly that and more. I heard somewhere that the bridge had a 5 degree incline to it. But it really did seem easy to traverse it; you don’t even notice that you’re over the road until you hear the cars driving underneath you. You may notice the cops on Segways at the other side of the bridge as we were walking toward the lake?
Originally they proposed to put a suspension bridge over the drive, but they thought it might waste too much space. Gehry designed this bridge, and frankly it does a great job of winding over Columbus Drive, while providing an interesting study in stainless steel bridge construction. From overhead you can really tell how well the bridge curves in and out, moving up and down depending on where you're standing.
Millennium Park itself opened less than four years ago on July 16th, 2004 and is located in Chicago bounded by Randolph Street to the North, Columbus Drive to the East, Monroe Drive to the South and the great Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue, to the West. The park was originally just an open expanse with railroads and parking and an unsightly eyesore in Chicago's great front lawn that is Grant Park, and is now one of Chicago's most enjoyed public spaces. The park has been open now for almost two years and its effect on the surrounding area has been astounding. New restaurants, condominiums, hotels and various amenities have cropped up around the park making it an even more vibrant area to enjoy.
Some of the other stuff there that I loved was the Cloud Gate sculpture. Originally this piece thought to have been assembled somewhere else, then brought by barge to Chicago, but this did not occur due to various issues. This piece will not be ready for the official opening of the park, but was on view for the public to see. They were barely able to make it in time for a September completion date. By then, all that was left was to weld and polish the sculpture to a beautifully unique and seamless marvelous looking structure. Anish Kapoor is world-renowned for his large art sculptures, and this addition to the park was really being something spectacular to see. This was the artist's first permanent piece in the United States, and will continue to add to Chicago's tradition of providing exceptional public art to its citizens.
The Gehry bandshell as it is called has an interesting story in the way that it came about. (Shown in the top picture.) Initially the idea was that the park would have a modest venue in which it would handle around 30,000 people (if you call that modest?) That proposal was introduced by Mayor Daley on March 21, 1998. Some may say then that they were missing out, because now the capacity is pegged around 11,000 with 4,000 of those being permanent seating, and the rest on the great lawn behind it. I’m not sure if the thirty thousand estimate was a case of being overly optimistic, given how small the area is, but clearly the park would have been nothing more than the bandshell if that had been the case.
One more thing that truly blew my mind was Crown Fountain that was designed by Jaume Plensa. This is probably my favorite addition to the park besides the Gehry Bandshell and Bridge, is this new double fountain with two towers each 50 feet high that display images and video. This fountain designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa was funded by a donation from Crown Family, is really a prototype of the future of what modern fountains will try to emulate. Kruek & Sexton Architects are the ones who actually built these wonderful twin fountain towers. I hope you enjoy the extra shots and verbiage?"I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail."
~ H L Mencken