What is the Bean in Chicago?

The Bean in Chicago Few sculptures can captivate thousands of people at once, and fewer still attract visitors of all ages to surprise and inspire. New visitors to Chicago may have heard reference to the cultural and physical behemoth that is The Bean, but few may know the answer to “What is The Bean in Chicago?”  The 100-ton sculpture that is Cloud Gate, a Chicago hallmark, is perhaps better known as The Bean for its remarkable shape. However, its original name is perhaps more explicit, as its seamless aluminum body reflects and distorts the skyline and lake in unimaginable ways. It also marks Millenium Park as a must-see destination for almost all Chicago visitors after they take a lunch in the clouds

What Does The Bean in Chicago Mean?

What does The Bean in Chicago mean? Formally known as Cloud Gate, Chicago’s Bean is a mercury-inspired structural wonder of engineering, resulting from the artistic vision of Anish Kapoor in collaboration with a design and construction firm.  Because of its breath-taking all-aluminum body, Cloud Gate reflects a multitude of angles all at once, whether you find yourself in the astounding glamor beneath its 33-foot tall frame, or you gaze into the Chicago skyline reflected and distorted along its 66-foot span.

Why Is It Called the Bean?

It’s no surprise that many people wonder what the Bean in Chicago means — what could be the deeper meaning of a giant, silver bean? If you lived in Chicagoland during the time that the Bean was under construction, you may remember that few people were aware of the sculpture’s formal title and simply called it “the Bean” due to its kidney-bean-like shape. By the time the name “Cloud Gate” became more widely known in the years to follow, the endearing (and misleading) nickname was etched in stone.

Themes of Cloud Gate, Chicago’s Reflection

At the right time of day and angle, Cloud Gate becomes indistinguishable from the sky. This warping of space and expectation is just part of the wonder that is The Bean. Kapoor’s work consistently works with limits and limitlessness, among many other topics of duality. Cloud Gate continues this public work as people find themselves alongside, seemingly, all of Chicago, all of the Lake, and all of its impressive architectural feats represented in the reflection of The Bean. Many viewers also question the sheer possibility of its construction, its seamlessness, and its ability to look featherlight when compared to its massive actual tonnage.

Where is The Bean in Chicago?

Where is The Bean in Chicago? The Bean’s Chicago address is technically located in Millenium Park on the AT&T Plaza, which places it exactly halfway between Washington St. and Madison St. It’s located just south of the Millenium Station Metra stop, and due east of the Washington and Wabash L stop. If you’re in the neighborhood, you won’t want to miss this iconic Chicago attraction!

How Big Is the Bean?

Even if you’ve seen it in person, its reflective surface belies exactly how big the Bean is! Chicago building stories are about 14 feet high, so its height of 33 feet makes it about as tall as a 2-story structure. The monumental sculpture is 42 feet wide and 66 feet long. However, it may be more effective to communicate the Chicago Bean’s size in terms of weight: at about 110 tons, it’s about as heavy as 15 elephants, a blue whale, a space shuttle, or a small single-storey house.

Experience Chicago From the Clouds With Skydeck

Once you’ve experienced the unique sights as seen from the ground, climb up Willis Tower to take in the city at 1,353 feet. Then, take your travelers to see up-close and personal the best attractions Chicago has to offer, courtesy of our local Skydeck guides.