Cloud Gate, Millenium Plaza

Cloud Gate sculpture at the Millenium Plaza.

The road on our 10-hour drive from Toronto to Chicago. This was taken when we were probably in Ohio or Indiana.
Another rural scenery on the road. I took a number of similar pictures from inside the moving car.
The Sears Tower and the city skyline as we're approaching downtown Chicago.
There was some excitement when a fire broke out at a building just a block away from the hotel where we stayed and right within The Loop (the downtown core where the elevated train rails form a loop). According to news reports, some 300 firemen were mobilized to put out the fire - an operation that extended until the next day. For first-time visitors like me, it was a stark reminder of the Great Fire that razed down the city in 1871.
The buildings along Michigan Avenue at the front of Millenium Park. Note the smoke from the fire I mentioned above.
Built in the 1920s, the Wrigley Building is one of the most beloved structures in Chicago and was commissioned by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr.
The unique and captivating sculpture at the Millenium Park by British but Indian-born artist Anish Kapoor. The stainless steel structure's official name is Cloud Gate but locals affectionately call it "The Bean".
Me and The Bean. At this point, the fire smoke was getting worse in the background.. I wasn't worried because firemen came to our hotel earlier saying that everything was under control, so we decided to escape the smoke and went sightseeing instead.
From the side, The Bean looks like a shiny giant egg.
The fascinating image captured by my camera from under The Bean.
The Greek-inspired collonades of the Wrigley Square and Millenium Monument that is popular for wedding pictures. Etched on the monument is the list of corporations and individuals (including famous Chicagoan Oprah Winfrey) who contributed to finance the creation of the Millenium Park.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by superstar Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry of the Guggenheim Museum fame. The Gehry-signature stainless steel curves are not appreciated by some conservative locals but most people like the daring design which I think goes very well with Kapoor's Cloud Gate.
A sophisticated outdoor concert venue, the Pritzker Pavilion has an enormous trellis of steel tubing that serves as the supporting framework for a superb sound system that is designed to emulate an indoor concert hall. The 4,000 seats in front of the stage are ingeniously placed lower than ground level so that they wont obstruct the sightline of the audience occupying the lawn behind.
The Pavilion as seen from the Daley Bicentennial Plaza. Considered the centerpiece of the Millenium Plaza, the Pavilion's curves provide an interesting contrast to the straight lines of the skyscrapers behind it.
The curving BP Pedestrian Bridge, also designed by Frank Gehry. It snakes across Columbus Drive connecting the Millenium Park to Daley Bicentennial Plaza. It doesn't only serve as a bridge but also an effective acoustic barrier from the traffic noise below.
The Chicago river whose flow had to be reversed in 1900 because the polluted water was spoiling Lake Michigan which is the city's source of fresh water.
The Chicago river at night reflecting the city lights.
A portion of The Magnificent Mile - a stretch of Michigan Avenue north of Chicago river which is the city's premier shopping district.
I met with my sister Jane, who now resides in Chicago, her husband Michael and her kids. It was the first time I saw her two little girls who were not born yet when I moved to Toronto. The eldest, Mico, was 3 years old at the time.
Another view of Chicago buildings.
Chicago's famed waterfront. The Navy Pier can be seen at a distance.
The Pumping Station at the corner of Michigan and Chicago Avenues. Along with the Water Tower (below), this is one of the only two public buildings in the are that survived the 1871 Chicago fire. It now houses a Visitor Information Center and still fulfills its original purpose of pumping million of gallons of water per day.
The Water Tower, built in 1869 just before the great fire. Along with the Pumping Station just across the street, it served as inspiration to Chicagoans in their rebuilding efforts after the catastrophic fire. Both buildings now serve as monuments of 19th century Chicago.
The beautiful Buckingham Fountain donated by a wealthy widow to the city in 1929. In the background are two landmark skyscrapers - the white Aon Center (formerly known as Standard Oil Building) which is the 3rd tallest building in the US (after Sears Tower and Empire State Bldg), and Two Prudential Plaza Bldg with the distinctive pyramidal peak reminiscent of the Chrysler Building in New York.
Martin and me at the Buckingham Fountain. Note the Sears Tower in the background.
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world's premier museums and has an extensive collections of paintings, sculptures, photographs and decorative artifacts from around the world. It was dizzying to be around the original works of such great artists as Monet, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, etc..
Art students studying the bizarre images of surrealist Salvador Dali's "Visions of Eternity" and "Inventions of the Monsters"
Me looking at the modern classic "American Gothic" by Grant Wood which is one of the star paintings in the museum. This 1930 portrait shows an Iowa farmer and his spinster daughter. Wood allegedly used his sister and dentist to pose for this work. The fact that this portrait is used in the opening credits of the popular dark comedy TV show "Desperate Housewives" will make this painting even more popular.
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - 1884, the masterpiece of post-impressionist Georges Seurat. It took him two years to finish the work which he painted using tiny dots of color.

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