After a good night’s rest and a leisurely breakfast at the Palmer House, my son and I shouldered our backpacks and headed toward the train station, which is under Millenium Park. It had rained overnight, and the city was covered in fog.
I was fascinated by how the buildings disappeared into the fog above. My son was patient but unamused as I took photo after photo.
I’d only been to downtown Chicago twice, once in high school and once when I took my mother on a shopping trip for her birthday. I’d never been to Millenium Park, though.
We stopped to watch the faces in Crown Fountain. This is one of two opposing towers, and both show faces of everyday Chicagoans, more than 1,000 in all. The fountain hadn’t been turned on for the season yet, but when it is, every time one of the faces closes its eyes and purses its lips like this, water jets from the mouth onto the concrete below. We chuckled as the other face kept throwing an error; every time the lips pursed, one of the glass blocks in the display read “Fan Fail.” Ah, software. The message always displayed so briefly that I could never get a photo of it!
Around the way from the fountain stand a series of contemporary sculptures from China. Why China, we couldn’t figure out, but the sculpture’s details were engaging. Here are two of those details, both from a piece called Valiant Struggle.
These whimsical sculptures are slated to move on in October.
We saw tulips everywhere as we walked through downtown that weekend. Millenium Park was full of them, all purple, red, and yellow-orange. I love tulips; they were my favorite flower as a small boy and I still enjoy seeing them emerge every spring. (I was thrilled the first spring I lived in my house to find that the original owner had lined the front flower bed with tulip bulbs.) This bed had so many tulips that I easily filled my camera’s frame with them.
I had heard about the Bean, but not knowing Chicago very well I didn’t realize we’d come upon it in the park. It’s one of those things that makes you say, “Whoa!” when you see it.
I’d seen photographs of the Bean before – and really, it’s called Cloud Gate – but wasn’t prepared for just how big it is. It’s quite the marvel of design and construction, made of 168 welded and polished stainless steel plates. It’s 66 feet long, 42 feet deep, and 33 feet high, weighing in at a staggering 110 tons.
We lingered a little too long at the Bean and had to scoot to catch our train. Memo to Chicago: You might want to make the entrance to Millenium Station a little more obvious. Maps say it’s under the park, but don’t say that the entrance is not in the park but instead on the southwest corner of Michigan Ave. and Randolph St., across the street from the park’s northwest corner. We figured it out just in time.
Though I’ve not often been to Chicago, I’ve spent plenty of time in Illinois exploring its old roads, such as the National Road and US 50.