Millennium Park: History of a Chicago Favorite

Every summer marks another anniversary for Chicago destination Millennium Park, which opened in July 2004. Planning, fundraising and construction of the park began as early as 1996, when organizers started to investigate who owned the park site. Today, features of the park are some of Chicago's most recognized landmarks.

Special Collections holds two archival collections that explore the history of Millennium Park.

The Millennium Park, U.S. Equities Realty Collection is comprised of tens of thousands of photographic images of the construction of the park. Many of these images can be seen online in the Millennium Park Digital Collection.

The Millennium Park, Inc. Archives mainly contains models, drawings, site plans and renderings, with some correspondence, meeting minutes, budgetary information and reports. Here, you can learn about what Lurie Gardens could have looked like had a different design won the design competition. You can also learn about the original plan to build Cloud Gate (a.k.a. the Bean) in California and ship it to Chicago. As the sculpture weighs in at 110 tons and measures 33 feet high, 42 feet wide and 66 feet long, such transport would have been too hard on the infrastructure. So, the Bean was shipped in pieces and constructed here.

View the collections to learn more about these park features and others, including Crown Fountain, Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion and BP Bridge.

What's your favorite part of Millennium Park?

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