Grant Park

- Buckingham Fountain, S Michigan Ave, Lake Michigan, sculptures, museums

Grant Park is a large park (121 ha) that occupies a large part of downtown Chicago, between S Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan. It is surrounded by beautiful historic skyscrapers and other buildings, and borders both Loop and South Loop. Here you also find the Art Institute, a huge arts museum that was voted the world's best museum recently, and a lot of sculptures. Grant Park is the largest park in central Chicago, and was filled with railway tracks in the past, before large expansions. A man called Aaron Montgomery Ward prevented the park from being urbanised. In 1836, he won the case about the park. It was initially called Lake Park, but was renamed after Ulyssses S. Grant in 1901. At the south end of the park, you find Field Museum (a natural history museum featured several times in Indiana Jones), Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Further south of Grant Park you find the Soldier Field football stadium and McCormick Center, North America's largest congress center.
Just to the East of Grant Park goes Lake Shore Drive, and Lakefront Trail, a popular jogging trail along Lake Michigan. It is a bit hard to stroll throught the whole park since there are many busy road intersection, that partly are bridges above the railways that still exist. S Columbus Drive also goes right through the park. To the North of the park is Randolph Street with its many skyscrapers. The park is inspired by French parks, with its geometrical design.

At the lakefront of Grant Park, you find the huge and beautiful Buckingham Fountain, that is considered Chicago's front door, and was opened in 1927. The fountain is a popular tourist attraction and had an important role at the opening to the 80s comedy show "Married with Children". It was designed in rococo wedding cake style and has light schemes in changing colours after dark, accompanied by music, and water shows. The fountain represents Lake Michigan and its four bordering states, represented by sea horses. It is 85m in diameter, 7m high and was named after the business man Clarence Buckingham.

Millennium Park is a landscaped park that is part of Grant Park, just next to South Michigan Avenue. Here you find the famous modernist sculptures Cloud Gate, Jay Pritzker Pavilion (a futuristic shae arena for concerts), a mirroring aluminium shape, and the Crown Fountain, with it's faces appearing behind waterfalls. They are very popular tourist attractions and among locals. Next to Millennium Park is Lurie Garden, that is the world's largest rooftop garden. In 2015 a huge playground called Maggie Daley Plaza opened in the East part of Grant Park.

Other significant statues and sculptures in Grant Park are the Lincoln Statue, The Spearman, The Indian at a horse and the General John Logan Statue. Dove Girl Fountain and Fountain of the Great Lakes are not as grand as Buckingham Fountain, but still beautiful. The most significant buildings surrounding Grant Park are; Aon Center, 1-2 Prudential Plaza, Santa Fe Bldg (Architecture Foundation), Art Institute, CNA Center, Chicago Hilton, Congress Hotel, Auditorium Building and One Museum Park.

In 1968, protesters at a democratic convetion were brutally attacked by 16 000 policemen, damaging Chicago's reputation. In 2008, Barrack Obama accepted his post as president at a crowd of 125 000 people.

We sat and watched the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, it turned grey and started to rain a bit but not very much. All of a sudden we had this thunderstorm right over us, accompanied by the march songs of Buckingham Fountain! Bizarre! Since Grant Park is open to Lake Michigan, it was really hard to move or see anything! We took shelter under a small restroom building, but finally we had to flee towards the road to escape the open space in Grant Park right next to Lake Michigan. Meanwhile there was a tornado in Pontiac, only 10km away.

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