If you’ve ever seen a picture of Chicago, you’ve probably seen a picture of “Cloud Gate,” the shiny bean-shaped sculpture in Millennium Park. It looks like this:


“Cloud Gate” is really cool and definitely worth checking out, but you probably already knew that; thanks to social media, there are pictures of this artwork everywhere.

But as it turns out, there is another very cool piece of public art just a few feet from “Cloud Gate,” and it’s a piece I found even more interesting — even if it is much less photographed by visitors.

That piece, called “Crown Fountain,” is also located in Millennium Park and features two giant video screens. It looks like this:

The two screens of “Crown Fountain” face each other. When I visited in late September, it was showing two faces, apparently of local Chicagoans. The fountain was dry during my visit, but it also apparently includes a popular water feature.

Artist Jaume Plensa designed the fountain, which was completed in 2004 at a cost of $17 million.


During my visit to Millennium Park, “Cloud Gate” was packed to the point where it was difficult to actually experience. It’s a great piece, but “Crown Fountain” ended up offering a more enjoyable experience due to relative lack of crowds.

I also enjoyed it’s form, which echoes the skyscrapers all around it. It seemed to raise questions about the nature of the city itself, the relationship between people and the built environment, and (perhaps more cynically) what it means to be “watched” in an urban area.

In any case, “Crown Fountain” is free and always open. If you’re headed to Chicago, be sure to wander over after checking out “Cloud Gate.”

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

One comment

  1. Neat! I have never heard of Crown Fountain but as you say, I have seen a million pics of Cloud Gate. For the record, a giant bean doesn’t seem all that exciting to me, but maybe in person it’s more impressive.

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