Tourists who love sculptures always have Chicago on their tour list. Chicago, also known as the windy city, is one in the list of largest cities. The span of the city is about 234 square miles making it 3rd largest city in the US. Mesmerizing architecture of the city made it more famous among the travel enthusiasts. The Chicago city is home to a variety of architectures like skyscrapers, museums, and many more. Chicago city attracts more than 55 million tourists every year acording to Wikipedia. Chicago has lots of tourist places, but anyone’s trip to Chicago can’t complete without visiting the famous Cloud Gate, popularly known as The Chicago Bean.
More than 12 million tourists visit the Bean to enjoy its mesmerizing beauty. Art lovers seem to be in love with this sculpture, but this does not mean that it is only for art lovers. No one can leave an opportunity to grab a selfie with such a unique work of art. In this blog, we will discuss everything about Chicago bean there is to know.
Brief Description of The Chicago Bean
The Chicago bean is the nickname of the enormous silver bean-like sculpture in Chicago. The Bean is one of the largest public outdoor artwork in the world. It is quite famous due to its unique structure.
The sculpture is located in the heart of Chicago city. The official name of this sculpture is the Cloud gate. Its name Cloud Gate is because most of its surface reflects the sky and bents the reflection down into a gate-like shape. Visitors can see their reflection in the sculpture, and no one can resist the urge to touch this beautiful sculpture. However, People touch it so much that one clean team is always there to clean it multiple times in a day.
Where is it located?
The Chicago bean is located in the famous Millennium Park. The park cover 24 acres of land in the loop community area of Chicago, also known as downtown Chicago.
The Bean is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. You can’t really miss such a beautiful structure if you were to pass by.
History of The Chicago Bean.
In 1999, several proposals for the construction of centerpiece sculpture for Millennium park were submitted. The one which was approved was the Bean.
The Bean is the major attraction in the Millennium Park, but it was actually under construction in 2004, at the time of the inauguration of the park. Finally the bean got completed in May 2007.
While it was under construction, the locals gave it the nickname of Bean due to the sculpture’s shape.
The Bean was designed by Anish Kapoor, a British artist who was born in India. After its completion in 2006, it was given its official name, which is The Cloud gate. It was the first outdoor artwork of Anish Kapoor. It has been 14 years, but the sculpture has not lost its beauty. Regular cleaning and care are taken for the Bean.
The Man Behind the Bean
The internationally recognized outdoor artwork ‘The bean’ was the idea of the Indian- British artist and sculptor Anish Kapoor. He was born in Mumbai, India, on 12th March 1954 and went to London for his work life. He is an art lover, and he studied Arts at Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea School of Art and Design.
The ‘bean’ officially known as the cloud gate, was Anish’s first outdoor public artwork. He was famed for his biomorphic sculptures and received many awards for the fantastic work he did in the field of Arts. As of now Anish Kapoor is more than 66 years old, continuing his work in arts, creating striking artworks.
Structure of The Chicago Bean
The Chicago bean structure is like an eggshell. It does not have interior support. At the time of construction, large metal rings and trusses were used as interiors support to wield the metal sheets together. Later, after welding the sculpture, the interior support was removed. To bear the whole structure’s weight, there are two large metal rings inside, making sure that no specific point is overloaded with weight.
The entire structure is made up of Stainless steel. A total of 164 steel sheets, which are 10mm thick, were used for construction. Three-dimensional modeling technology was used for construction purposes. The steel sheet used was cut into different pieces accurately with the help of advanced computers. As per some estimates, the sculpture cost reached $23 million. The structure was fully polished and completed by 2006. It reflects the skylines and the surrounding green space and buildings. People see themselves in the polished surface at different angles, and everyone wants to touch this wonder.
Size and Weight of The Bean
Originally the bean weight was supposed to be only 60 tons, but when the Bean was completed, it weighed around 110 tons, nearly twice the estimates. This was a problem for engineers as North Grant Park garage gives support to the Bean, so the garage’s foundation required additional bracing.
Moreover, the Bean is 66 feet in length, its height is about 33 feet, and it’s 42 feet wide.
Night View of The Bean
Not only in the daytime but even at night, this sculpture can leave you in awe. The Bean reflects the skylines, and the lights coming from the skyscraper buildings give a beautiful look to the Bean. The view at night is really peaceful and can be great after a tiring day.
Maintenance and Cleaning of the Bean
Every day hundreds of tourists can’t resist touching the polished bean surface, but this makes the work of keeping the Bean clean and shining quite difficult for the cleaning staff.
Even after 15 years of continuous exposure to dust, rain, fingerprints, the bean cleaning staff maintains the metallic luster of the structure.
The cleaning and maintenance staff of Bean everyday cleans the bottom six-feet of the Bean around seven times a day with clothes. They do this to remove all the fingerprints tourists left on the structure surface.
It’s not possible for the crew to clean the whole Bean every day, as it is quite significant.
Bird also makes the sculpture dirty. To keep the Bean shining all-year long, Bean’s administration needs to hire a Chicago cleaning company two times every year. The Chicago cleaning company thoroughly clean the beans every corner.
There are many tourists visit during day time so the cleaning company can’t clean it in the daytime, so they clean it in high when no one is there to see the sculpture. They send two men cleaning crew for this task. Usually, cleaning is not performed in peak months so that everyone who visits can enjoy the Bean Amazing view.
The cleaning company uses detergents and sprays to remove dirt and bird dropping.
After proper cleaning of the Bean, The Bean is hand polished using a special chemical to make the Bean lustrous.
Biking at the Bean
Millennium Park is quite significant. So if you are planning on taking the tour on foot, then you should rethink once. Bikes are conveniently available near the park. For just $9.95, you can get access to Chicago’s city bike rental program. The Divvy bikes for 9.95$ gives you access to a bike for an entire day. So instead of walking on foot, taking a bike, and enjoying the park’s environment is the best choice. There are a lot of things to see at Millennium Park. After you are done with biking, you can go to the crown fountain for showering.
Parking at the Chicago Bean
Parking has always been a problem for tourists. Many tourist places do not have property parking spaces which make tourist worried about their vehicle safety. The Chicago bean is different. They handle more than 12 million tourists every year, so they have a proper parking space, which can be booked online. The booking prices start at 3$. The cheapest parking spot which costs 3$ is far, which can be inconvenient. You can reserve an 11$ parking spot near the location or you can even get a garage. You can come to Chicago bean using public transport, but they can be very crowded.
Visiting Chicago bean can be an excellent experience for anyone who loves art. There is free WiFi available, so no need to worry about internet access. You can upload as much as videos and pictures as to your social media. After you are done exploring galleries, you can go to Lurie Garden. It is a 2.5-acre garden with a never-ending variety of plants and flowers. The Lurie garden is good for resting, and you can even watch the live plays organized by well-known artists. This was all one should know before visiting this architectural wonder. Just remember to rent a bike to explore the park; you will thank yourself later. You are required to follow covid-19 guidelines while visiting.
Visitors to Millennium Park are required to wear a face mask at all times. There have been some cases of illegal graffiti arts, so be sure not to take any spray. It might cause trouble for you.
The park is open from 6 AM to 11 PM, but you are free to come whenever you like with no restrictions.