Friday, July 16, 2004

Millennium blog.

It rained on and off today, but during one of the dry periods in the late afternoon, I crossed the Loop on foot to see the very newest thing in Chicago to see, Millennium Park, whose opening ceremonies were this evening. I was too early for any ceremonies, but I saw the main event anyway, the park itself.

It’s been lauded enough in the papers and other reports, so I won’t go on about it. But I will add that it’s a public-space masterpiece. Very impressive. Worthy of its highly visible spot in one of the Great Cities of the Earth, and certainly popular with the visitors today, which must have been a few thousand when I was there.

It’s got a number of handsome open spaces, interesting walkways, some more or less traditional gardens, a large water feature that’s fun for kids, and an enormous sculpture that’s already got an affectionate nickname (“the bean,” which gives you an idea of the shape, but not of its slick silvery surface). Even Frank Gehry’s contribution, the new bandshell, works. I was skeptical, but no more. I’ve never seen anything quite like it; not so much the signature Gehry flaps of metal over the stage, but the cascade of curving beams over the Great Lawn in front of the stage. (See June 23, 2003 for my philistine comments on Gehry, which I’m not retracting. I just happen to like this work).

The park’s been a long time in the making, with the usual delays and staggering cost overruns. But I’m sure that Mayor Daley has a Flavian attitude about it, and I sympathize: “Cost overruns at the Coliseum? So what? This is built to last!”


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