My first day in Chicago, I decided to visit the bean. Of course, I’d heard from friends who’d visited and from the countless online recommendations that visiting the Millennium Park and The Bean within is a must-do activity while in town.
And so I did. Clutching my umbrella trying to stay dry—on the second day of summer, mind you—I entered the almost empty park. It was a Friday, but the rains had doused minds of potential tourists (I realised on another day).
Unmissable and grand was the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Facing the Great Lawn, it’s a massive open area fit for concerts and parties for none other than the second-most populous city in the United States.
It took me a while to comprehend the grandeur of the Pavilion, and even more time to understand how weird the structure is. It’s an architectural marvel, for sure, but to me at first, it looked like a giant spider’s web—but a beautiful one at that, though.
Turning away, I faced the only other thing everyone spoke about—The Bean. I’d never understood what all the hoopla was about it. And I thought perhaps I’d see what’s so great about it when I did indeed see it in real life. I didn’t.
Sure, it looked nice. It’s a giant coffee-bean-shaped metal structure that reflects everything in front and underneath it. And because of the unique shape, the reflections are different from one place to another. When I stood outside the bean, my reflection seemed just like on any other mirror, but as I walked underneath, my reflection distorted. It was interesting for a few minutes, but I couldn’t gather why it’s such a huge tourist destination.
At that point I realised: The bean isn’t the only worth-while spot in the city. And I decided to find the other, less known marvels—the places that don’t make it into popular tourism brochures. And I did find some of them, too. (More on them later.)
Expecting something more promising from Chicago, I turned to the Lurie Garden. The raindrops on petals made already enchanting plans even more attractive. It was a beautiful sight. And like any plant-laden area, the scent of wet grass and fresh blossoms cheered me up in an instant.
As I walked around the garden, crouching low to read the name cards of the plants, I realised how towering the buildings of Chicago are. All around me were high-rise constructions—some gawk-worthy, to be honest—looking over puny trees and humans alike. I was in a natural sanctuary in the middle of a concrete jungle.
Exiting the garden, I got lost. The Millennium Park is such a large area that it’s only too easy to lose your way. I didn’t mind, though. I like walking and exploring and I ended up going round and round in circles.
Then I saw something odd. It was a huge pillar, sitting snug in the middle of a big clearing. As I approached it, I saw it wasn’t a pillar but a fountain. A huge structure spitting water in an incessant manner. And it was still raining. When I walked around it, I saw there was another one, and with the face of a child on it. It was a pair of fountains, both flashing human faces that spew copious amounts of water.
It was fun to watch, but soon lost it’s thunder. It’s a massive attraction for tourists, and as I saw on a different day, children and parents alike play and drench themselves in the fountain.
For me, though, it’s more interesting to think about the resources and effort it took to construct these architectural wonders of the Millennium Park. During my visit I came across hundreds of such large and grand structures that must’ve taken the best of architectures and the most expensive of materials. It put the wealth of corporate America in a new perspective.
Oh, but the trip was wonderful. And more posts (and photos) follow.