CHICAGO, IL - Since its unveiling in 2006, the Cloud Gate, fondly referred to as "The Bean," has become synonymous with Chicago's architectural allure. Standing proudly in the midst of Millennium Park, this metallic wonder has mirrored the faces of millions of visitors and the city's ever-evolving skyline. However, after 17 years of being a photographic haven for tourists and locals alike, The Bean's surrounding plaza is due for some revitalization.
Beginning August 2023, the plaza playing host to The Bean is set to undergo essential renovations. The primary objective of these renovations is twofold: enhancing the overall visitor experience and bolstering the area’s accessibility. It's a testament to the city's commitment to maintaining its public spaces and ensuring they remain top-notch for residents and visitors.
For those planning to visit during the construction period, it's important to note that views of The Bean will be considerably restricted. Public access to the immediate vicinity of the iconic sculpture will be halted. The revamping process is slated to span until spring 2024, and during this period, the public will have to bask in the charm of The Bean from a distance.
While the temporary limited access to The Bean might be disappointing to some, it's an opportune time to dive deep into the treasures that Millennium Park and Chicago’s Loop have to offer. The 24-acre Millennium Park, nestled in the city’s downtown Loop, is a treasure trove of artistic wonders, verdant spaces, delectable dining options, and engaging events.
As summer graces the city, the Crown Fountain becomes a hotspot for families and tourists. Its twin sculptures project the faces of Chicago’s diverse citizenry, culminating in a playful splash zone. Then, there's the architectural marvel of the Pritzker Pavilion. Crafted by the masterful architect Frank Gehry, this venue frequently resounds with the melodies of the Millennium Park Music Series, the reverberations of the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the motion of films from the Millennium Park Film Series.
For those seeking tranquility amidst the urban hustle, the Lurie Garden awaits. Here, native plants and flowers provide a serene ambiance, juxtaposed beautifully against the city's towering skyline. Furthermore, the Boeing Galleries, with their contemporary exhibits, offer an art enthusiast's dream. Christine Tarkowski’s vibrant hand-blown glass works and Edra Soto's evocative pavilion-like structure are currently the stars of the gallery.
For a family-friendly venture, Maggie Daley Park is a stone's throw away, connected by the sinuous BP Bridge. Its imaginative playground is a haven for children to unleash their energy.
Curious visitors might wonder how to still catch a glimpse of The Bean during its hiatus. A potential solution lies at Cindy’s, located just opposite Millennium Park. Within the Chicago Athletic Association, this rooftop bar boasts an open terrace, offering a panoramic view of Millennium Park and, if luck is on your side, a limited view of The Bean.
In essence, while The Bean and its plaza undergo their metamorphosis, the heart of Chicago remains vibrant and inviting. The construction around this iconic landmark is not just about physical upgrades; it symbolizes Chicago's dedication to evolution, accessibility, and preserving its landmarks for future generations to enjoy. The Bean will emerge from this phase unchanged, still standing as a testament to Chicago's timeless allure.