Friday, April 12, 2013


 Whenever your view of life gets a little distorted (like the buildings that appear to be crooked in this photo collage!), it is time to regroup, and go enjoy God's great outdoors.  If you live in a large urban area such as Chicago, the quickest way to enjoy the outdoors is by visiting a park.  These photos tell about the amazing Millennium Park in the Loop area of downtown Chicago.  Although it was named  in recognition of the millennial year of 2000, it was not actually completed until 2004.  And even though Millennium Park cost millions to build, there is no admission charge to visit it.   Maybe that is why it is the second most-visited tourist attraction in Chicago, second only to Navy Pier.
 If you enter the park from Michigan Avenue, your first stop will be McCormick Tribune Plaza.
 There you will find the Park Grill which brags that it is the best al fresco eatery in the city, with an expansive view of the city and its people.  The shiny object above the colorful sun umbrellas was specifically designed to sit on the roof of the Park Grill, and is the result of  an art competition that  was held in 1999 .  The designer was Anish Kapoor, and he said his concept was to make it look like a drop of mercury about to splash to the ground.
 The official name of the sculpture is "Cloud Gate", although the locals affectionately refer to it as "The Bean" because of the way it resembles a legume, when seen from the AT&T Plaza section of Millennium Park.  Since it is said to be the most-often photographed items in Chicago these days, it is not surprising that park workers spray it down with Windex two times per day, and scrub the top with Tide two times per year.
 It was paid for by private funding, and cost a whopping $23 million!  That is why I wanted to take this photo of my reflection in it, as it is surely the most expensive mirror I have ever looked into!
 This runner is taking advantage of the "Great Lawn", which spreads out in front of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry.  This concert venue can hold 11,000 patrons, with 4,000 in the fixed seats and 7,000 on the lawn.  The curved steel trellis system over the seating area supports a state-of-the-art sound system, making this an outstanding outdoor venue. 
 This is the largest structure in the park, and is designed to look like a flower opening up.  It is classified as a sculpture, rather than a building, to skirt an 1844 legal designation that this park space be "free of buildings".
 This photo shows The Nichols Bridgeway, which is a 625 foot pedestrian bridge that joins Millennium Park to the Art Institute's Modern Wing.  Both the bridge, and the Modern Art Wing, were designed by Renzo Piano.  The gentle incline of the bridge will gradually take pedestrians up sixty feet, over a city street, and into the third floor entrance of the Art Institute.
 Looking back from the top of the bridge to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion gives the viewer a better grasp of the giant expanse of the Pavilion.
 From the Nichols Bridgeway you will be able to see Lurie Garden, shown in this photograph.  Through its structure and basic design, the Lurie Garden is a model of sustainable horticulture.  It is built over parking garages and an active commuter railroad.  Thus, it has been designated as one of the world's largest green roofs.  Green roofs improve air quality,  conserve energy, minimize stormwater runoff, and help reduce the urban heat island effect.
 It is not surprising that Lurie Gardens will be having a special event for Earth Day on April 20.  You can find out about their Earth Day event, as well as their full schedule of educational offerings, at  .  Although "Earth Day" recognition, as we now know it, has only been around a few years, Genesis 1:1 reminds us that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Now THAT is what I would call the true beginning of "Earth Day"!
 The graceful curves shown in this photograph picture the BP Bridge for pedestrians.  It was also designed by Frank Gehry, who designed the Pavilion.  The bridge was designed to prevent any traffic noise from the street below, from reaching the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is adjacent to the bridge. 
Millennium Park hosts numerous musical performances throughout the spring and summer months.  Most of the performances are free, but if you want to be assured of one of these comfortable red chairs, you can log onto to check out the schedule and purchase tickets. 
 Without a doubt, my favorite part of Millennium Park was Crown Fountain.  This is an interactive fountain by Jaume Plensa that features visual images of ordinary Chicagoans on the two large monoliths.  Can you see the face in the fountain farthest away?
 As you get closer to the fountain, you may be surprised, as water periodically shoots from between the lips of the face on the screen.
 There is a shallow basin that collects a small amount of the water sprayed out, for the youngsters to splash in.
 This side view of one of the 50 foot fountain towers, gives a glimpse of the interior, as the sun is shining through the glass bricks. 
 There are LED video screens behind the glass bricks, that create the images.  When I saw this scene, it was like someone was blowing me a kiss through the tree branches!
 This photo shows that youngsters are not the only ones who like to play in the water!  During the summer, you will see kids of all ages splashing and cooling off, from the Chicago heat. 
 These kids have "fully immersed" themselves in the Millennium Park experience, and I would recommend that you do the same.  A day in the park will give you "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia
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