History of the Majestic 33 Feet high Chicago Bean or the Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate, popularly known as “The Chicago Bean,” is Chicago’s most popular tourist destination and should be on your to-do list when you visit the city. For the locals, this majestic stainless-steel structure is more than just a piece of art but, to tourists, it is an opportunity to take a selfie with the bean reflecting the panoramic background of the Chicago, USA skyline. The monumental structure mirrors the city’s downtown park and reflects the famous skyline of the glorious city. Here is everything you should know about The Chicago Bean.

What is The Chicago Bean?

The sculpture that is officially titled as Cloud Gate gained popularity to become the famous Chicago Bean because of its unique shape, design, and the captivating image of the surroundings. Unveiled in 2004, it is one of the world’s largest permanent outdoor art fixtures in the United States. This monumental work of public art is in the heart of Chicago, and soon after its unveiling, it was adored by all, earning the title of Chicago’s most iconic sights. 

The Chicago Bean

Where is The Chicago Bean?

You will be able to identify The Bean at a prominent location at the Millennium Park, the lakefront park in the city of Chicago just above the McCormick Tribune Plaza, behind the Park Grill Restaurant. If you are planning to take a stroll in the Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe, you can’t miss the spectacular sight.

The Chicago Bean, 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602, United States | Website

What does The Bean mean?

The Bean’s reflective surface looks like liquid mercury floating in the structure. The shiny surface gives a beautiful manifestation of the people strolling around the park, the surrounding skyline, the lights of Michigan Avenue, and peace offered by the green space making it an unforgettable Millennium Park experience. The idea of creating this masterpiece was to make a grand entrance like structure at the Millennium Park that would imbibe the incredible skyline of Chicago, the open sky and the lake. As the visitors walked into the gate, they experienced a blissful sense of walking into the clouds. The idea was a huge success as the sky above the park descended into the curved outer surface, while the underside of the structure created a grand entrance to the park, giving it the distinctive shape like that of a Bean.

Who designed The Bean?

The Bean was conceptualized and designed by Anish Kapoor, an internationally acclaimed Indian-born British sculptor who is renowned for his large-scale abstract projects with geometric shapes and reflective surfaces. Chicago’s Cloud Gate is Anish Kapoor’s first public outdoor sculpture in the United States. Though the structure was under construction during the inauguration of the park in 2004, this magical visual of a structure was finally completed in May 2006. You will admire the beauty of his design at the bottom of the sculpture, which is inspired by the Omphalos and is an indentation where the mirrored surface gives multiple reflections of any object situated under it.

What’s The Bean made out of?

The exterior of The Bean is made up of stainless steel giving it the sharp and shiny look. The massive structure is designed using computer technology to achieve the perfection of cutting and assembling 168 steel plates. The steel plates are fitted and welded together for a seamless finish. From inside, it is a grid of two large metal rings connected through a truss framework, like what you might see on a bridge. Its steel exterior is attached to a frame situated inside with flexible connectors that allows it to expand and contract with the weather changes. This thoughtful design allows the sculpture’s enormous weight to be borne by its two base points, giving it the iconic “Bean” shape and creating a sizeable concave area beneath the structure allowing the visitors to walk beneath it.

the cloud gate

How big is The Bean?

It is huge! This massive structure located at the prominent location of Chicago is 66 feet in length, 42 feet wide, and touches a total height of 33 feet, making this edifice the best of its kind. It undoubtedly is a gigantic piece of art. A unique and thoughtful design, its 12 feet (3.7 meters) high arch allows the visitors to walk underneath it, giving them a memorable experience that they will cherish for life.

Why is it called The Bean?

It was immediately after the unveiling of this extraordinary shape of this architectural marvel and even before an official name was assigned; the people of Chicago started calling this reflective steel sculpture as ‘The Bean’.  As 80% of its surface reflected the Chicago sky that eventually took the shape of the structure and amalgamated into it, this mesmerizing piece of art was rightly named ‘Cloud Gate’. No matter what everyone fondly calls it, it will be impossible for you to take your eyes off from this aesthetic creation.

Today, this attraction of the Millennium Park has become a coveted place for tourists to take photographs and selfies. The silvery surface is so inviting that the visitors find it hard to control their urge to touch it and get fascinated with their reflections from different perspectives.  This artistic piece that comprises of the polished metalwork is a representation of a gigantic drop of liquid mercury.

It is a result of more than a thousand hours of refining and thus, maintaining the shine of the perfect surface of The Bean requires a humongous task of cleaning.  The cleaners’ polish and clean the surfaces of this masterpiece twice a day-in the early morning and at night. Another set of cleaners come up to seven times a day to wipe off the numerous fingerprints of the visitors from the bottom of The Bean.  Words can’t define the breathtaking beauty of this unique piece of architecture. A must-visit place at least once in a lifetime, next time you visit Chicago, make sure you capture an epic picture of yourself along with the gorgeous skyline on this iconic and adored icon of Chicago.