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Millennium Park creates Chicago tourist jobs

Posted on April 7, 2017

Millennium Park is a large attraction that helps create many Chicago tourist jobs.

Millennium Park welcomed nearly 12.9 million guests in just the second half of 2016—making it the #1 attraction in the Midwest and among the Top 10 most-visited sites in the U.S. Based on new attendance counting technology, the figures put the Park in the company of Central Park (New York, N.Y.) and the National Mall (Washington, D.C.).

“Millennium Park has become part of the cultural fabric of Chicago, bringing children and families together from all parts of the city to experience world class culture for free,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “With 12.9 million visitors to the Park in just the second half of 2016, I am proud to see it become the #1 attraction in the Midwest.”

Last year alone, Chicago broke tourism records by welcoming 54.1 million visitors citywide, moving the city closer to reaching the Mayor’s goal of 55 million visitors by 2020. With new events and cultural programs added each year—including hundreds of free cultural events at Millennium Park this summer, and the second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors this fall—Chicago is on track to continue breaking records.

Thanks to new and improved technology, Millennium Park attendance is now measured by a third-party vendor using passive electronic sensors. A June 15 through December 31, 2016 pilot project covering approximately half of the Park—centered around Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) and three main entrances—estimated 12,859,360 unique visitors. The new six-month estimate relies on similar technology used by other major events, tradeshows, retail spaces and airports around the world.

“Millennium Park is Chicago’s town square—a lively, spectacular gathering spot located in the heart of the city and a destination for Chicagoans and visitors alike,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “We invite the citizens of the world to come experience this state-of-the-art collection of art, architecture, gardens and design that provides the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural events this summer.”

Millennium Park is Chicago’s town square and the anchor of an urban cultural campus that includes the Chicago Cultural Center, Maggie Daley Park and the Art Institute of Chicago—all connected by the Chicago Cultural Mile. Attendance at Maggie Daley Park is also growing, with an estimated 3 million visitors in 2016. In addition, last year Navy Pier brought in a record 9.3 million visitors.

Opened in 2004, Millennium Park is a 24.5-acre urban park in the heart of downtown Chicago, home to the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (also known as “The Bean”) by Anish Kapoor, Crown Fountain designed by Jaume Plensa, the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the internationally-acclaimed Lurie Garden and more. Previous estimates of attendance at Millennium Park revealed 5 million annual visitors.