Oh, the charm of that river at Millennium Park

read all about it....

07/25/2009 11:19 PM

By Bonnie McGrath

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photo by Marshall Rosenthal

The first time I wrote this little piece it was for the Chicago Reader, which they “commissioned” for their Favorite Things about our town issue. They paid me--but alas, it never ran.

The second time I wrote it, it was again “commissioned,” this time by the Chicago Bar Association--where I am a member of the editorial board--for inclusion in the current issue of their magazine, CBA Record, which contains a special section of special things about Chicago--in honor of the American Bar Association convention next week in Chicago.

The CBA also asked me to write a tour guide for Obamaphiles, which is headlined “Obamaland,” and it includes all his haunts and hangouts and favorite restaurants in our fair city (many in the South Loop including Manny’s, the Hilton, Hutchinson Field, etc.), and which is laid out beautifully in the current issue. Trouble is, they decided not to run the other little piece--maybe no space or maybe it would look funny if I was the only editorial board member with two “favorite place” pieces.

So, I decided this piece needs to finally see the light of a computer monitor. The third try for this piece is going to be the charm. I’m blogging it. It’s close enough to the South Loop to be relevant You can walk there in the same amount of time north from my house as you can south to Kroll’s, for example, at 18th and Michigan--and no one would raise an eyebrow if I blogged about Kroll’s…which perhaps I will someday.

Here’s the piece, twice killed, resurrected, at last--about one of my very favorite things in Chicago….

by Bonnie McGrath

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,” says a member of the MP security staff on a Segway. “I guess it’s a safety hazard.”

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By Al Hippensteel from Dearborn Park
Posted: 07/31/2009 9:58 AM

Bonnie, My wife is a volunteer gardener on Thursday mornings at Lurie Garden. Perhaps the next time Marshall is taking pictures, he could show her dangling her feet in the "river of Salvia."

By Dan Haley from Oak Park
Posted: 07/28/2009 3:08 PM

Hey Bonnie, This is the beauty of a blog. No editor can kill your stories. No publisher can say there isn't enough space. And it is a lovely piece, too. The picture makes it. Dan

By judy marcus from palatine
Posted: 07/26/2009 4:38 PM

I love it! Can't wait to see it next time I'm downtown!

By bonnie mcgrath from south loop
Posted: 07/26/2009 8:26 AM

the picture of the reader above was sent to me this morning by my old friend marshall rosenthal, an avid photographer about town! i couldn't resist adding it to the post....