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Millennium Park named one of America's Great Public Spaces

Written by
Nick Kotecki

The American Planning Association named Millennium Park one of America's "Great Public Spaces" earlier this week.

In addition to Chicago, five other great spaces across the U.S. were named to the list:

Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado

Flint Farmers Market in Flint, Michigan

Santa Fe Railyard in Sante Fe, New Mexico

Hermann Park in Houston, Texas

The Great Spaces were selected by the APA according to criteria that included "architectural features, accessibility, functionality and community involvement." Though great spaces are named for each state in the U.S. every October, Chicago's Millennium Park and those above received special commendation by the APA as "enjoyable, safe, and desirable...[being] places where people want to be—not only to visit, but to live and work every day." The association also called Millennium Park "arguably one of the most recognizable parks in the world."

It's hard to imagine the city without them, but the green lawns and picturesque walkways of Millennium Park just opened to the public in 2004. The 24.5-acre project cost Chicago $475 million, yet the expense was almost certainly worth it. Millennium Park contains the Pritzker Pavilion, a stage designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that plays host to concerts and movie screenings during the warm months, many of which are completely free; Cloud Gate (aka The Bean), a sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor and seemingly in at least one selfie by anyone who's stepped foot in Chicago; and the Crown Fountain, you know, that thing with the brick columns with people's faces projected on them, with the jets of water spewing from their mouths.

As for the actual APA award, Chicago doesn't really get anything but a hefty dose of street cred. Then again, the honor itself is worth a ton—the APA is one of the most respected and foremost bodies in the field of urban planning in the U.S. Not bad for a city hosting its first Architecture Biennial.

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