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Will 'The Millennium Mile' Name for South Michigan Avenue Catch On?

 Visitors taking photos mid-day Monday by
Visitors taking photos mid-day Monday by "Cloud Gate," also known as The Bean, in Millennium Park
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DNAinfo/David Matthews

MILLENNIUM PARK — Stop trying to make "The Millennium Mile" happen.

A recent Chicago Tribune story reported real estate brokers, among "others," have begun calling the stretch of Michigan Avenue south of the Chicago River "The Millennium Mile" in reference to the Downtown park that is attracting new retail and development nearby. 

It was the first time DNAinfo had heard of the term, and we decided to ask those close to Millennium Park for their thoughts. The results, we found, were mostly tepid.

"I don't care if they want to name it," said Wheaton's Debbie Larabee, who Monday was taking pictures by the beanesque "Cloud Gate" sculpture at Millennium Park with her children. "It's Michigan Avenue." 

"Seems a little contrived," added fellow tourist Wayne Nodsle, who was visiting from Minnesota. 

Larabee's children shrugged.

David Matthews discusses why the name could change:

The name represents the latest effort to brand South Michigan Avenue, which for decades has lied in the shadow of The Magnificent Mile luxury shopping district to the north. Despite being home to the Art Institute and other attractions, it wasn't until Millennium Park opened in 2004 that developers seemingly took notice.

Though "The Millennium Mile" pays homage to the area's economic catalyst, there's another issue with the nickname: the thoroughfare already has one. 

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), left, at the "Chicago Cultural Mile" ribbon-cutting in June. (Photo provided by the Chicago Cultural Mile Association)

Sharene Shariatzadeh, executive director of the Chicago Cultural Mile Association, said her organization spent $14,000 on two bronze "Chicago Cultural Mile" signs that were planted in South Michigan Avenue medians last summer. Though biased, Shariatzadeh was also not fond of "The Millennium Mile" name.

"I never hear anyone use that term," she said. "'The Millennium Mile' makes it like that park, and it’s much more than that."

So which is better, "The Millennium Mile" or "Chicago Cultural Mile"? Opinions within DNAinfo Chicago differed, with some arguing "millennium" was buzzier than the "cultural mile" moniker that people may associate with museums

Baird & Warner real estate broker Kim Jones has listed luxury condominiums for sale at the Heritage at Millennium Park, 130 N. Garland Court, for years. She was quick to point out that her clients, often baby-boomers, usually seek proximity to the Downtown museums and theaters south of the river.

"I like the 'cultural mile' better," she said. "It's nice to remind people that the area really does hold culture of the parks and things like that." 

A spokesman for the Magnificent Mile Association, which has business members stretching as far south as Cermak Road, did not return requests for comment. 

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