Cloud Gate aka The Bean
So I was passing through Chicago on my way to Oshkosh and figured why not spend a few days in the city that I’ve heard of, read about and seen on TV. If you google Chicago images your screen is likely to be filled with images of a large silver sculpture called Cloud Gate that has been nicknamed “The Bean” because of it’s bean-like shape. This structure was so intriguing it was immediately moved to the top of my list of must see sights in Chicago.
Having caught a train into town, and without a map or much of an idea where anything was, I emerged from Union Station and walked towards the water, Lake Michigan. That’s when I came across Millennium Park and looking around saw the Bean right there in front of me. I walked around to get closer and have to admit that it is a remarkable sculpture that one could admire endlessly as the reflection is ever-changing as you move around the structure.
It is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together and the highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It is 10 x 20 x 13 metres in size and is reported to weigh around 100 tonnes.
The sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline, so you stand there with your back to the city and yet you can still see all the tall buildings, it’s awesome. You can also walk under Cloud Gate’s 12-foot (3.7 m) high arch. On the underside is a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections.
If you stand directly under the arch of the bean and look up you see an almost perfect circular reflection of all the other people under the arch around you.
As touristy and gimmicky as ‘the bean’ is, as well as many Chicago residents who don’t understand all the fuss, I must confess that I was mesmerised and spent most of the afternoon just admiring the structure. Not to mention just people watching as tourist after tourist went up to the structure to take a photo of their reflection…
…and I couldn’t resist taking one myself!