DeBlog: Why Can’t We Have A Millennium Park?

I just got back from a week in Chicago, and many things about my trip make me love the Twin Cities even more. I don’t know how well I’d deal with all that Chicago traffic, for example. And it would take me years to eat my way through all the great restaurants. (Check out The Whistler for drinks and Longman & Eagle for dinner!)

But I think Minneapolis deserves a Millennium Park.

DeRusha Family at Millennium Park

Chicago opened the park in 2004. It cost $475 million, and taxpayers paid for most of it ($270 million). The rest came from business leaders and private donations.

Sam - A Reflection

It features crazy public art, like the so-called “bean.” My kids couldn’t stop walking around and seeing their reflections inside it.

I love this picture of my boys!

The park is 24 acres of some of the most valuable real estate inside Chicago. The process of building it was messy. But Chicago went big: they decided “we need to make a statement,” and it works. People love this park. Tourists flock to it. It’s a gathering space, and place of tremendous pride.

Love when the Fountains Start Spitting

Where’s our downtown place like that? I know they considered a park at Block E, but the land was seen as too valuable to take off the tax rolls. That’s turned out well.

I know in a time where budgets are tight and people are hurting — it seems crazy to build a park like this. But our business community has done quite well over the past couple years. Maybe if we build the Vikings a stadium, they have to build us a Millennium Park. We deserve it.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Michael

    The park in Chicago was built in 2004… those were the good years! Get a grip! The author is stupidly infatuated with how good they want to feel now that they do not realize that their mentality is the reason why we are in the spot we are in. Look at Chicago now and wonder if 500 million on some concrete and mirrors was really the best use of the cash… duh?

    • gtV

      Oh yea of little insight and vision! Yes, times are tough especially for Chicago but look at the intrinsic benefits of what Chicago did. The park, in essence, is a people stress reliever. An entity for civic pride and environmental magnet for all to use.

      Jason’s enthusiasm and up-beat attitude is a refreshing change from the gloom-&-doom mentality so prevalent in today’s world. Jason, just happened to capture that ‘downtown’ Chicago ethic/feeling that the park represents. Sounds like you need to get outdoors, smell the flowers and fresh air, and start living life with gusto. We all could use a little positivity and espirit de corps. How about it? Have a wonderful day!

      • Doug T

        Your Right! As long as we have already dug a public debt hole all the way to China (literally) why not spend more money no one has!! It would be excellent!!

        • gtV

          @doug t
          Another voice heard from the “grumpy” negativity society club! Are things that bad for you that you can’t be the least bit positive in your life’s outlook?

          Just remember when you been dealt lemons to work with you can make various brews/styles of lemonade and feel good about it!

  • gtVoyageur

    What a great idea you have for a Millenium Park here. The land spaces, the design talent, and the creative MN populace vision are here for such an entity. Just think of the economic benefits from such an enterprising park with all the available access to such. What a great idea!

    Let’s go one step further and build this combined effort park in the Midway neighborhood on the Mpls/St.Paul boundaries or the Twin Cities’ geographic center near the Amtrak Station and the old Twins [the center] Midway Motel area. You would have access to the Amtrak, LRT, MTC bus lines/hub, parking, with plenty of area that could be developed into expansive ‘people’ areas. Unlike Chicago’s initial expenditures for their Millenium Park doing such in Minnesota could be done for 1/2 the initial outlay and costs borne by both Mpls and St.Paul, local business corporations, citizen donations, and the state. This truly would be a “Twin Cities Millenium Park”. Both cities would benefit from such and it could be a year-round tourist attraction, if developed and promoted correctly, to boot! This could ideally surpass Chicago’s Millenium Park.

    Wjhat do you think?

    • thinking

      I think I prefer creative optimism over unimaginative pessimism.

      • gtV

        Thanks I was beginning to think I was a lone voice in the wilderness of the gloom-&-doom society!

  • Chicagofan

    Also just spent a long weekend in Chicago and I couldn’t agree more. If you hear ‘city park’ you probably think trees, lawns, benches, and maybe a small water fountain or pond. This place is much more than a park, it’s really a heart of the city come together. It’s a cultural hub with an amphitheatre, gardens, public outdoor art, family friendly recreation spots, pedestrian thoroughfare etc etc etc.

    Lord knows Minneapolis has more than its fair share of blocks upon blocks of asphalt parking lots downtown, tear a couple up and see what we can do!

    • Doug T

      Ya – and in such places you can get mugged too!! – Such fun – if only we could be a important big city like that – Or like Detroit !! Heck they even have a real sports stadium!!

  • Doug T

    Hey we have a places like that ..A huge Mall and a public are that has a Spoon in it!!

    (Really – we are too far away from the rest of the world to hardly even be found on a map….Ya think spending godzillen dollars will help with that – we can barely keep sports teams here…)

  • Swamp Rat

    Good Grief, Doug-T!!! You are sounding like a true blue gloom-&-doom isolationist! If things are that for you, I know a couple of places in Alaska or Canada where you could live in total silence and wilderness. Your nearest neighbors could be several hundred miles nearby! Now how is that for Mother Earth living all by yourself?

    Is this what you want in life? At least you would have the surrounding environs all to yourself.

  • AndyG

    Chicago has always had a great vision of public engagement. Millenium Park is its latest, greatest example. The lake front area of the city is something to behold.

    Minneapolis, on the other hand, may have a great park system; but they’ve never thought big (no, the incomplete Grand Rounds doesn’t count). There should be a destination. People pleaded that Block E be turned into something similar to Millenium Park…and we wasted that. Now that said property is an abject failure, it’s time to turn into that. We had the Gateway for many decades, which was turned into a surface parking lot and high-rise condos. Minneapolis has never been good about appreciating public spaces or thinking big.

  • MplsCentralPark

    Tear down the dome and replace it with a park.

    • Swamp Rat

      Now that’s got possibilities!

  • ryanol

    Minneapolis is around the 16th largest city? Chicago is number three. Lake Calhoun/Harriet/Isles is pretty special in perspective.

    • Jason DeRusha

      No doubt – but that’s more like a neighborhood attraction, isn’t it?

  • Question

    I lived in the Twin Cities for 15 years and now live in the city of Chicago. I love Millennium Park and think that the Twin Cities would embrace a similar space. That said, the Twin Cities have far better neighborhood/city parks than Chicago does. There is no Calhoun/Harriet/Isles, Como Park, Mounds Park, or Battle Creek Park in Chicago. The lakefront is generally nice, but is only readily accessible to people who live near it.

    • Jason DeRusha

      Very true. Our neighborhood park system is incredible. It goes to the comment above, though, about the lack of thinking big here. Gold Medal Park by the Guthrie had some potential – but it’s so – dull.

  • Bill

    We are well on our way to becoming like Chicago. Our politicians blatantly sell their votes to the highest bidder.

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