artist Anish Kapoor, his first public wor k in the U.S. O nce you see the sculptur e, offi-
cially titled Cloudgate, you'll see why most Chicagoans affectionately call it “ the Bean.”
For much more on the park, see p. 168 in chapter 6.
PING TOM MEMORIAL PARK
Families touring Chinatown should make a point of stopping at this wondefully themed
playground and par k. B rightly color ed swing sets, r ubberized sur facing, and signs in
Mandarin and English are surrounded by grounds landscaped with plants indigenous to
China, such as bamboo. The park shelter is of Chinese design. It's all part of the Chicago
Park District's new efforts to make parks attractive to both kids and adults, and appropri-
ate to their neighborhood. You'll find the park at 300 W. 19th St.
300 W. 19th St. & 312/742-PLAY (742-7529). Subway/El: Orange Line to Cermak.
WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK
This little par k, built on 3 acr es, may hav e been named after N ew York's Washington
Square Park, which is in a similarly elegant neighborhood. Although small in siz e, its
location is wonderful, just west of the Magnificent Mile. If you need a place for your kids
to run free after a day of shopping or touring, this par k will give them some open space
and immerse you in a “neighborhood” area, not far from busy Michigan Avenue.
The par k has had its ups and do wns, follo wing the for tunes of the neighborhood.
Surrounded b y fine r esidences and chur ches in the late 1800s, the neighborhood fell
upon harder times in the 1910s, when many mansions w ere converted into flophouses.
The park earned the nickname “B ughouse Square.” Like S peakers' Corner in London 's
Hyde Park, Washington Square became a popular spot for soapbox orators. Artists, writ-
ers, political radicals, and hobos pontificated, r ead poetry, and ranted and raved.
In the late 1990s, the park district, city, and neighborhood organizations restored the
park by reconstructing a historic Victorian fountain and installing period lighting, fenc-
ing, and new plantings. Today the park is surrounded by historic mansions, ne w condo
buildings, and Newberry Library (p. 186).
901 N. Clark St. (at Delaware St.). & 312/742-PLAY (742-7529). Bus: 11.
3 PLAYGROUNDS IN THE CITY CENTER
Chicago has a networ k of 552 city par ks—most of which hav e playgr ounds. To find
information on a neighborhood par k, go to www.chicagoparkdistrict.com or call
& 312/742-PLAY (742-7529) for a list of par ks and their facilities.
One of the most centrally located childr en's playgr ounds is at Daley Bicentennial
Plaza in Millennium Park, at 337 E. Randolph St. The playground is set in the shadow
of downtown skyscrapers at Randolph Street and Lake Shore Drive, which has fine views
of the skyline and the lake. Kids will find all-ne w equipment for climbing, playing, and
interacting, including swing sets and mor e, on a safe, r ubberized surface. In addition to
the play ar ea, the plaza also has a fitness center , locker r ooms, and tennis cour ts, plus
ice-skating in the winter. (For more on the skating rink, see “S ports & Games,” below.)
Another heavily used playgr ound is Seneca Playlot Park, 228 E. Chicago A ve., just
west of Chicago's venerable pumping station on M ichigan Avenue. Seneca Park features
both a lawn with shaded walkways and a play lot with a standar d swing set, slide, and
more. Though it's small and could use a little updating, Seneca provides a quiet oasis near