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What's Inside the Bean? Photos Show the Building of 'Cloud Gate'

By Kelly Bauer | September 17, 2015 8:24am
 Construction of Cloud Gate, called
Construction of Cloud Gate, called "The Bean."
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Courtesy Chicago Public Library

DOWNTOWN — It's been about 10 years since "Cloud Gate," aka "The Bean," was "birthed," as one official said at the time.

The sculpture wasn't yet finished when a huge tent that had shrouded it was removed in late August 2005. But the public got a good look after what Millennium Park Vice President Henry Kleeman described as "a long labor."

"The Bean" sparked controversy when artist Anish Kapoor's design was selected, as some believed it would be impossible to make or difficult to maintain. But the sculpture has become famous around the world (and inspired an imitation in China), with people flocking to "the Eiffel Tower of Chicago" to admire the 110-ton piece and take photos.

The stainless steel skin hides an internal skeleton with flexible connectors that allow it to expand and contract in Chicago's extreme weather. Thirty-three feet high, 42 feet wide and 66 feet long, its cost was a reported $23 million.

Kelly Bauer explains how the first 'Bean selfie' happened:

Meet the man who may have taken the first selfie at "The Bean."

We recently came across a number of photos posted by the Chicago Public Library detailing its construction. They're pretty cool! Take a look:

A rendering of the inside of "Cloud Gate." [Chicago Public Library]

Dec. 17, 2002: The omphalos, or navel, of Cloud Gate. You can see it when you walk under the Bean and look at the highest point of the "ceiling." [Chicago Public Library]

April 22, 2003: One of the steel plates that later became Cloud Gate. [Chicago Public Library]

March 22, 2004: The inner "skeleton" of "Cloud Gate." [Chicago Public Library]

March 22, 2004: The omphalos, or navel, installed at "Cloud Gate." [Chicago Public Library]

March 25, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" around the omphalos are attached. [Chicago Public Library]

March 29, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" are attached. [Chicago Public Library]

March 31, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of Cloud Gate are attached. [Chicago Public Library]

April 23, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" are attached, and its inner "skeleton" is also visible here. [Chicago Public Library]

April 25, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" are attached. [Chicago Public Library]

April 27, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" are attached, and its inner "skeleton" is also visible here. [Chicago Public Library]

April 29, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" are attached. [Chicago Public Library]

June 5, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" are attached. [Chicago Public Library]

June 8, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of "Cloud Gate" are attached, and its inner "skeleton" is also visible here. [Chicago Public Library]

June 9, 2004: The steel plates that make up the shell of Cloud Gate are attached. Most of the plates are attached in this photo. [Chicago Public Library]

June 28, 2004: Workers install the last steel plate used to create the outside shell of Cloud Gate. [Chicago Public Library]

July 16, 2004: Cloud Gate is complete and temporarily open to the public here, though the welded edges of the steel plates are still visible. Later the steel plates had their edges grinded down so the Bean looks seamless. [Chicago Public Library]

May 19, 2005: The steel plates have their welded edges ground down, giving the Bean a seamless look. [Chicago Public Library]

"The Bean" was temporarily closed while the steel plates had their welded edges ground down to give the sculpture its seamless look. It was dedicated in 2006 and became a world-famous landmark and hot spot for selfies and photography.

Here's what it looks like now:

The completed Bean in 2015. [DNAinfo/David Matthews]

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