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What's the Chicago Bean (Formally Known as The Cloud Gate)?

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What's the Chicago Bean (Formally Known as The Cloud Gate)?

Where Is Cloud Gate Located?

Cloud Gate is located in the Loop area of downtown Chicago. It is a fixture of Millennium Park, specifically situated in the AT&T Plaza. The plaza is located between Chase Promenade and the McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink. Millennium Park was built in honor of the third millennium and takes up a portion of Grant Park, the city’s celebrated lakefront public outdoor space. Within the park are pavilions that host outdoor concerts, gardens, fountains, and more. Millennium Park and Cloud Gate have now become must-visit Grant Park attractions. 

Why Is Cloud Gate Called The Bean?

To put it simply, Cloud Gate looks like a large silver bean. Crafted from stainless steel, the monument has no visible seams, though it is constructed from 168 steel plates. Its polished mirror finish reflects the city skyline as well as the surrounding green space and visitors who make their way to its plaza. The Bean is 33 ft high, 66 ft wide, and 42 ft wide. It weighs approximately 110 lbs and cost $23 million to complete. Since its completion, the Bean has become an iconic symbol of the city and popular tourist attraction. Its interactive quality makes it a unique public art installation.  

Designing the Park’s Entrance

When tapped to design the entrance to Millennium Park, India-born British artist Anish Kapoor drew inspiration from liquid mercury. Its location near Michigan Avenue (and nearby section known as The Magnificent Mile) and bustling Loop are certainly mercurial in nature. The crowd, lights, and dazzling skyline filled with buildings and clouds are reflected by the mirrored surface of The Bean. Cloud Gate is Kapoor’s first permanent public art installation in the United States and now regarded as his most famous work. 

Other Attractions of Millennium Park

While Cloud Gate has become Millennium Park’s most easily recognizable feature, there are numerous other attractions you may wish to check out after taking your ‘Bean selfie’. The park encompasses more than 300 acres within the much larger Grant Park outdoor complex. Grant Park has long been referred to as Chicago’s “front lawn.” Not surprisingly, Millennium Park was designed to complement the outdoor space, and is now regarded as one of the largest green roofs on the planet because of its rooftop location. The park is actually built on top of immense parking garages and a railroad yard. When visiting Millennium Park, be sure to check out its major features such as: 

McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink

During the winter months, the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink is a celebrated downtown destination for skaters. A popular meeting place, the rink is beautifully situated beneath the city’s holiday lights. During the rest of the year, the rink is transformed into a large dining space that hosts music shows, culinary events, and more. 

Joan W. and Irving B Harris Theater for Music and Dance

An indoor performing venue, the Joan W. and Irving B Harris Theater for Music and Dance is located on the park’s northern edge. The venue features 1,499 seats and features year-round performances. Less formally referred to as the Harris Theater, the venue boasts a stunning glass-walled lobby and has hosted both local and internationally acclaimed performers. 

Boeing Galleries

Paved in granite, the Boeing galleries are outdoor public galleries that host public art exhibitions. The installations have been large in scale, adding considerable drama to the setting. When you visit the park, you’ll definitely want to find out about the galleries’ temporary exhibits in case you’d like to check them out.  

Attractions of Grant Park

While there is quite a bit to explore in Millennium Park, be sure to set aside time to visit some of Grant Park’s most beloved sites and attractions too. In addition to Millennium Park, Grant Park is home to sites such as:

Buckingham Fountain

Another of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks, Buckingham Fountain was dedicated in 1927 and is one of the largest fountains worldwide. Inspired by Latona Fountain of Versailles, Buckingham Fountain is a Rococo-style fountain that was designed by architect Edward H. Bennett. It features highly detailed sculptures designed by notable sculptors of the day. The fountain operates between May and October. During the cold season, its water displays are replaced by festival lighting.  

Art Institute of Chicago

One of the most illustrious art museums in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 and is noted for the exceptionally large size and quality of its collections. Each year, more than 1.5 million people visit the institute to view its most celebrated permanent collection highlights, including “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, and “Two Sisters” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 

Field Museum of Natural History

As one of the largest natural history museums in the world, the Field Museum is one of Chicago’s most notable cultural attractions. The museum features both permanent and temporary exhibits. Some of its best-known permanent exhibits include Sue, The Tyrannosaurus Rex; The Ancient Americas, and the Animals Halls. 

Shedd Aquarium

John G. Shedd Aquarium was constructed in 1930 and boasts stunning Art Deco-era architecture. However, it has also been modernized and has become one of the most illustrious aquariums in the country. It features more than 1,500 species, including giant Pacific octopus, seahorses, starfish, green anaconda, piranha, beluga whale, dolphin, and more.  

Adler Planetarium

A National Historic Landmark, Adler Planetarium is a museum of astrology and astrophysics. Located on the lakefront, the dome-shaped museum features both modern and historic scientific instruments, an observatory, three theaters, and numerous exhibits.  

Festivals

Within its immense outdoor space, Grant Park is also the site of annual celebrations and festivals like the famous Taste of Chicago Fest, which celebrates the city’s versatile culinary heritage, and Blues Fest. Throughout the summer, there are many outdoor performances like free concerts that take place in the park’s outdoor pavilions. 

More Chicago Attractions

Chicago is, of course, one of the largest cities in the country. Visitors will find no shortage of attractions to enjoy during their Chicago vacation or getaway. If you have time, you may want include the following Chicago attractions on your travel itinerary: 

Navy Pier

Navy Pier is just a short taxi ride away from Grant Park. The pier opened in 1916 as an amusement area, and it still retains its carnival-like atmosphere, especially during the warm season. Take a ride on the pier’s famous Ferris Wheel or enjoy fun treats like Chicago hotdogs or deep dish pizza from vendors. There’s also an outdoor concert venue, Shakespeare theater, IMAX theater, numerous shops, restaurants, and a children’s museum that is popular with families. 

Willis Tower Skydeck

Head to the top of Willis Tower. Once the tallest building in the world (when it was known as the Sears Tower), Willis Tower offers breathtaking views of the city and Lake Michigan. Constructed in 1974, the skyscraper retained its title as the world’s tallest building until 1996. Even so, you’ll be hard pressed to find better views of the city from any other vantage.  

The Magnificent Mile

Filled with high-end shops, designer stores, and restaurants, the section of Michigan Avenue known as The Magnificent Mile is a shopper’s oasis. Luxury shops and galleries are studded along city blocks. When shopping this famous stretch, be sure to visit Water Tower Place, which is loaded with stores and eateries or take a break and check out the dazzling views of the Chicago River.  

Lincoln Park Zoo

Located on the north side of the city, Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868. This free city zoo is beautifully landscaped and features a wide range of zoo exhibits. It has long been famous for its gorillas, petting zoo, and lovely lagoon. If you’re visiting the city with kids, the zoo is a must-see attraction. 


The city of Chicago brims with attractions, but during your visit, you may want to spend some time at one of its beaches or simply stroll the streets of its downtown. You might also want to visit its famous neighborhoods like Chinatown or Greek Town. Finally, don’t forget to commemorate your special visit to Chicago with a special souvenir like a stunning art print of Cloud Gate. That way, you’ll have a lovely reminder of the time you spent in The Windy City.

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