Did You Know a Stream Runs Through Millennium Park?

Did You Know a Stream Runs Through Millennium Park?
Would this be breaking the rules? photo/Marshall Rosenthal

Here is a post I am bringing out of "retirement." It was originally posted on my former blog, "South Loop Observer" in 2009--but there's a whole story regarding the life of this post even before that, which you can read here.  I am bringing it out in honor of ChicagoNow's special day today:  the posting of us ChicagoNow bloggers' favorite summertime places or events in Chicago.  These posts are going to be collected and Storified for your reading--not to mention field trip--pleasure.   Enjoy! 

Kick off shoes. Roll up pants. Dangle legs. Gosh darnit, there’s even a supply of long blades of grass nearby to tear off and chew. Mark Twain would have loved it.

Yes--there is a stream that runs smack through the middle of Millennium Park. You can sit, unnoticed and unbothered, and stare at a faux limestone canyon-like wall that supports one side of this body of water. Footbridges cross over it to parts east and west in the Lurie Garden.

The sitting side is a small two-level boardwalk made of ipe, a less expensive substitute for teak.

The few inches of water in this ultimate, intimate inner city rivulet steppes down gradually from Madison Street, forming little granite pools, littered with coins--and broken up by short metal barriers that mimic locks. The water is replenished by small faucets that turn on now and then. Its mouth is a pond at Monroe Street.

At your sunburnt back--beyond a tensile metal rod that encloses an Evergreen forest, and a large, up-sloping prairie garden--is the Michigan Avenue street wall, which houses many scions of commerce and architecture.

They don’t permit a stroll through the stream’s water, though. Only splashing with bare feet is allowed while discussing the state of the world and listening to classical music wafting over from Pritzker Pavilion.

“I don’t know why there’s no wading,” said a member of the MP security staff on a Segway. “I guess it’s a safety hazard.”

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