Sunday, June 28, 2009

Parks in Chicago

While we were in Chicago, we spent an afternoon exploring some of the parks in the city. The first place we made a beeline for was Millenium Park which was completed in 2004 and won awards for accessibility and green design. The pavillion hosts many free concerts under its stainless steel beams that are supposed to represent a flower blooming or unfurling sails. I would never have known that if I hadn't read it!

Cloud Gate, or 'The Bean', is made of steel and cost $23 million! It's meant to represent a drop of mercury about to land on the plaza and is wildly popular with photographers including us.

We had a lot of fun taking pictures here and even saw a wedding party posing underneath it.

Crown Fountain was a wonderful place to cool our feet and these 50ft towers were mesmerizing.
They're made of glass blocks with LED screens behind showing the faces of nearly a thousand Chicagoans intending to show the diversity of the city.

All the faces are smiling and then they slowly stop to purse their lips at which point a jet of water spurts from their lips imitating historical fountains with gargoyles. It's a really entertaining and original feature and the black granite under the water felt wonderful beneath bare feet.

This is the back of one of the towers where two girls were enjoying the continuous waterfall of water which cascade down from the top.

We found a beautiful little park which was a peaceful retreat from the noise of the city and
quietly walked around enjoying the flowers, the cool shade of the trees and the sculptures, including one from Henry Moore. The one above is part of a roman numeral series of stainless steel works by David Smith housed around the world.

This gentleman was completely oblivous to all around him as he read his bible, not once lifting his eyes from his book.

Next door was another small park shaded with trees in large square raised beds and this beautiful bronze fountain at the end called the Fountain of the Great Lakes created between 1907 - 1913 by Lorado Taft and is his best known work.

It shows five woman with the water flowing through them in the same manner as the Great Lakes. We left here and headed to Grant Park where at dusk the Buckingham Fountains played to music with a light display. The fountain was financed by Kate Buckingham in memory of her brother and dedicated in 1927. It is modelled after Latona Fountain in Versailles.

These wonderful art deco serpents featured around the fountain but some of them were damaged. The fountain is undergoing restoration throughout this year.

Buckingham Fountain was the official starting point of Route 66 and also featured in the title sequence of 'Married...with Children'.

We sat and watched the changing colors during the 20 minute displays and as dusk turned to night, the skyscrapers glittered in the background with white lights. We watched the last display of the evening at 10pm and then left the dark peaceful park behind as we headed back to the bright bustling streets of the city.

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