A Millennium Park Trivia Quiz

based on the book Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark by Timothy J. Gilfoyle


Q: The site of Millennium Park was originally what?

A: Lake Michigan.

Q: What Chicago professional baseball team once played their home games on the site of Millennium Park?

A: In 1871, and again from 1878 to 1884, the city leased the northern part of Lakefront (later Grant) Park to Albert G. Spaulding, owner of the Chicago White Stockings of the National League, forerunners of the Chicago Cubs.

Q: From 1874 to 1891, where was a terminal for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad located?

A: The site of the Crown Fountain and the southern end of Chase Promenade.

Q: For over a century, the Millennium Park site and the area surrounding it was a railroad, warehouse, and automobile parking neighborhood. The construction of what building began the transformation of the area into a skyscraper and cultural district?

A: The Prudential Building (1952-55).

Q: The seam in Lurie Garden evokes what historic site?

A: The nineteenth-century breakwater wall constructed by the Illinois Central Railroad to protect the rail tracks from Lake Michigan.


Q: What looks like one of the smallest structures in Millennium Park, but is really one of the largest?

A: The Harris Theater’s facade is only 110 feet wide, slightly more than the width of four city lots; its 14-foot depth makes it one of the narrowest structures in the park; and it rises only 38 feet above Randolph Street. But 90 percent of the structure is below the surface of the park. Another 51 feet are submerged below the surface, making the total height of the theater structure 89 feet, second only to Pritzker Pavilion in height.

Q: According to architect Thomas Beeby, what was one of the key issues in constructing the Harris Theater?

A: The loading dock. Mid-size theater companies need a loading space large enough to accommodate two tractor trailers and allow one company to unload scenery and supplies while another company simultaneously occupies the stage, thereby avoiding extra days on the site for which they have to pay rent.

Q: Why is the BP Bridge shaped like a snake?

A: In order to make the bridge accessible to disabled persons.

Q: The first curtain walls in the Midwest used to generate electricity are located in Millennium Park. Where are they?

A: The Exelon Pavilions on the north side of the park were designed by Thomas Beeby. The dark, photovoltaic walls produce their own power and alternative energy sources; they are among the first structures with solar panels on all four sides.

Q: What structures in Millennium Park were designed by Renzo Piano, the architect of the new addition to the Art Institute of Chicago?

A: The Exelon Pavilions on the south side of the park.

Q: The McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink is: a. smaller, b. larger, or c. the same size as the famed ice skating rink in New York’s Rockefeller Center?

A: At 16,000 square feet (200 feet x 80 feet), Millennium Park’s rink is more than twice as large as Rockefeller Center’s 7,200-square-foot rink (120 feet x 60 feet).

Q: From 1917 to 1953, what occupied the site of the Millennium Monument in Wrigley Square?

A: Edward Bennett’s original peristyle occupied the same site.

Q: Is the Millennium Monument peristyle in Wrigley Square an exact replica of Edward Bennett’s original peristyle?

A: No. This new version is slightly smaller because a ramp for disabled pedestrians was incorporated behind the Monument, requiring architects David Dillon and Michael Patrick Sullivan to “shrink” the entire structure by approximately fifteen percent. While the height is roughly the same, the original peristyle was one hundred feet in diameter. The current peristyle is approximately eighty feet.

Q: At timed intervals, the faces on the towers of the Crown Fountain purse their lips and water spouts out. Why?

A: This is a digital reference to gargoyles on European, Renaissance-era fountains that inspired Crown Fountain designer Jaume Plensa.


Q: What painting by a Dutch master inspired Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion?

A: Johannes Vermeer’s Woman with a Water Jug (1660-67)

Q: In 1962 and 1972, proposals to build Grant Park music pavilions less than 60 feet in height were defeated because they violated a city regulation dating back to 1836 requiring that the park should “Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of Any Buildings, or Other Obstruction.” The Jay Pritzker Pavilion extends over 130 feet in height. Does the pavilion violate the historic “open, clear and free” regulation?

A: No. Jay Pritzker Pavilion is not a building, structure, or obstruction, but legally defined as “a piece of art.”

Q: Is the Pritzker Pavilion the first music pavilion designed by Frank Gehry?

A: No. Gehry was the architect of the Merriweather-Post Pavilion (1966-67) in Columbia, Maryland; the Concord [now Chronicle] Performing Arts Center (1973-76) in Concord, California; and the Hollywood Bowl renovations (1970-82) in Los Angeles, California

Q: The Lyric Opera is the second-largest opera auditorium in North America with a seating capacity of 3,563. Which has a larger seating capacity: the Lyric or Jay Pritzker Pavilion?

A: Jay Pritzker Pavilion has 4,000 permanent seats and room for an additional 6,000 to 7,000 on the Great Lawn.

Q: Why did Anish Kapoor name his Millennium Park sculpture Cloud Gate?

A: This piece hovers between architecture and sculpture,” claims Kapoor. “It is a kind of gate, and when completed, three-quarters of its surface will be [reflections of] sky. So it naturally suggested Cloud Gate, even though some people will probably still call it The Bean.

Q: How big is Cloud Gate?

A: 110 tons, 66 feet long, 42 feet wide and 33 feet high

Q: What was final cost of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate?

A: In excess of $20 million, making it one of the most expensive sculptures in history.

Q: Where is Louise Nevelson’s piece of art located in Millennium Park?

A: Louise Nevelson’s stage curtain for the Opera Theater of St. Louis’s production of Orfeo and Euridice in 1984 dominates the interior wall and lobby of the Harris Theater.

Copyright notice: ©2006 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press.

Timothy J. Gilfoyle
Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark
©2006, 474 pages, 361 color plates, 145 halftones, 12 maps, 8½ × 10
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 0-226-29349-1

For information on purchasing the book—from bookstores or here online—please go to the webpage for Millennium Park.

See also: