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Today Millennium Park is part of Chicago's Town Square and welcomes 20 million visitors annually, but the park’s roots begin with a transformation from an industrial wasteland to a world-renown public urban park. In fact, from the 1850s until 1997, the land that is now occupied by Millennium Park was controlled by the Illinois Central Railroad.
What is now Millennium Park was first conceived in late 1997 with Mayor Richard M. Daley’s vision of turning the area into a new public space for residents of Chicago. The original plan called for a 16-acre park and outdoor music venue in the traditional Beaux Arts style of Grant Park. Over time, with the commitment of the private sector and the involvement of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the project evolved into an ambitious undertaking featuring a collection of world-renowned artists, architects, planners, landscape architects and designers.
Today, the 24.5-acre Millennium Park represents an unprecedented public-private partnership, and has become a thoroughly modern achievement for Chicago in the tradition of its original founders.