Millennium ParkWhenever we go to Chicago, we always take an afternoon to stroll Millennium Park. It really is a delight for the senses with all of its attractions. The coolest part is the sculpture commonly known as "the Bean", even though it's real name is Cloud Gate. I, along with every other idiot tourist who visits Chicago, can spend hours getting lost in the reflections of and taking pictures of Cloud Gate. And then there are the fountains, the gardens, the concert pavilion, and the other nearby attractions, like the Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium, and too many other distractions to link.
We were at The Bean one night, watching a Chicago native flash a flashlight around the underside of The Bean leading to many interesting light effects. We began talking and mentioned how much we enjoyed Millennium Park. In return, he mentioned how much he, and other Chicagoans hated it. And here's why.
It seems that the entire projected cost of the park, $110,000,000, was paid by private donors. The only problem was, there were cost overruns. (What? Cost overruns in a government building project? Scandalous!) The final cost of the park was (are you ready for this? I don't think the people of Chicago were) $500,000,000. So who paid for the difference? Silly question. Chicago is full of taxpayers to be bled. According to my new Chicago friend, the taxes on his modest Chicago home tripled due to the construction of Millennium Park.
OK, under those circumstances, I wouldn't have much affection for the park either. Since the park is free to the public, it does not make any money. So, while we tourists marvel at The Bean, and wade through the fountain, and take pictures in the gardens, and lay on the grass of the concert pavilion, the citizens of Chicago have to fork over the money for the upkeep of all of these delightful tourist attractions.
So property taxes went up. They also have a huge (9%, I believe) sales tax in Chicago. That makes Chicago a very expensive place to live.
I still enjoy the park when we visit, but I try not to buy much when I'm in the city because of the insanely high tax rate. I did pick up a few things at the Jazz Record Mart though. It had been too many years.
I couldn't even imagine living in Chicago, at least not on my salary. For ordinary tourists though, Millennium Park is not to be missed.