Millennium Park was recently named the number one and most popular tourist attraction in the Midwest, surpassing Navy Pier. Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that 12.9 million people visited Millennium Park in the second half of 2016 alone.
This figure came from innovative technology centered around “Cloud Gate,” also known as “The Bean,” one of the park’s most popular spots. Electronic sensors tracked cell phone pings of visitors of Millennium Park from June 15 through December 31. The exact figure totaled 12,859,360 unique visitors, per ABC7 Chicago.
Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, stated, “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,” he cotinued, “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.”
Emanuel explained that, thanks to Millennium Park, Chicago has added between 15,000 and 20,000 hospitality jobs in the downtown area. This essentially means that visitors are directly impacting the local economy.
Reports show that Navy Pier has 9.3 million visitors in 2016. It is important to note that the pier is not losing guests, Millennium Park has just been attracting more tourists since it opened in 2003.
Emanuel stated that Chicago broke tourism records in 2016, with 54.1 million visitors citywide, which is a 2.9 percent increase over 2015. He said that his goal is to reach 55 million visitors a year by 2020.
The mayor’s office believes that Millennium Park’s tourism will continue to increase due to the stacked series of summer festivals to take place this year.
The 2017 Millennium Park summer season will offer myriad of free cultural events – including concerts, festivals, films, family activities, nature programs, public art and more – presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and its programming partners.
New this year, the Chicago Blues Festival moves to Millennium Park, June 9-11.
Further details and a list of events can be found here.