Skip to main content

Millennium Park

Creating a Chicago Landmark

In association with the Chicago History Museum
At its opening on July 16, 2004, Chicago’s Millennium Park was hailed as one of the most important millennium projects in the world. “Politicians come and go; business leaders come and go,” proclaimed mayor Richard M. Daley, “but artists really define a city.” Part park, part outdoor art museum, part cultural center, and part performance space, Millennium Park is now an unprecedented combination of distinctive architecture, monumental sculpture, and innovative landscaping. Including structures and works by Frank Gehry, Anish Kapoor, Jaume Plensa, and Kathryn Gustafson, the park represents the collaborative efforts of hundreds to turn an unused railroad yard in the heart of the city into a world-class civic space—and, in the process, to create an entirely new kind of cultural philanthropy.
Timothy Gilfoyle here offers a biography of this phenomenal undertaking, beginning before 1850 when the site of the park, the “city’s front yard,” was part of Lake Michigan. Gilfoyle studied the history of downtown; spent years with the planners, artists, and public officials behind Millennium Park; documented it at every stage of its construction; and traced the skeins of financing through municipal government, global corporations, private foundations, and wealthy civic leaders. The result is a thoroughly readable and lavishly illustrated testament to the park, the city, and all those attempting to think and act on a monumental scale. And underlying Gilfoyle’s history is also a revealing study of the globalization of art, the use of culture as an engine of economic expansion, and the nature of political and philanthropic power.

Born out of civic idealism, raised in political controversy, and maturing into a
symbol of the new Chicago, Millennium Park is truly a twenty-first-century
landmark, and it now has the history it deserves.

See a trivia quiz.

474 pages | 361 color plates, 145 halftones, 12 maps | 8 1/2 x 10 | © 2006

Historical Studies of Urban America

Architecture: American Architecture

Chicago and Illinois

Geography: Urban Geography

History: Urban History


Millennium Park is fascinating—and gorgeous. Its 474 pages are adorned with color images. They’re worth the $45 sticker price alone. . . . [Gilfoyle] knows how to tell a good story, and he has one here. . . . His research and his interviews uncovered a series of lucky breaks and wily moves that made Millennium Park possible, and then filled it with spectacular works of art.”

Chicago Tribune

“[A] high-stakes game of push-and-pull forms the dramatic core of historian Timothy J. Gilfoyle’s absorbing and lavishly illustrated Millennium Park. Gilfoyle frames the park’s gestation as a titanic struggle between public and private interests.”

Chicago Reader

“Gilfoyle captures all the soaring architectural drama, petty human squabbling, and commendable leadership behind the city’s newest civic jewel.”


"Gilfoyle has given us an intelligent and meticulously researched account of this triumphant new centerpiece of the city’s downtown. The book is handsomely produced, well-written , full of gorgeous photographs and tells the absorbing story of the Millennium Park site."

Herbert S. Channick | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Appendixes

Part I - History
1. Before Grant Park
2. Creating Grant Park
3. The Grant Park Problem

Part II - Politics

4. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Master Plan
5. Shooting for the Moon
6. Art in the Park
7. The Culture Broker
8. A Theater in the Park
9. The Modern Medicis
10. Conflict and Controversy
11. Defining Art

Part III - Culture

12. Constructing Millennium Park
13. Vermeer in Chicago: The Jay Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge
14. The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance
15. Cloud Gate
16. The Crown Fountain
17. The Lurie Garden
18. The Subtle Amenities of Millennium Park

Conclusion: The Multiple Meanings of Millenniumo-bidi-font-family: ’Courier New’" Park                                                          
Frequently Used Abbreviations
Illustration Credits


Society of Midland Authors: Midland Authors Award

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press