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Floral Style on Magnificent Mile
Colorful plantings enliven Chicago's downtown.
By Cathy Jean Maloney

Under cover of darkness, Doug Hoerr and his staff tiptoe through the tulips on Chicago's world-famous Michigan Avenue. It's the price of resounding success. Hoerr designed the spectacular median plantings in Chicago's Magnificent Mile, a stretch of Michigan Avenue lined by upscale retail shops and major cultural institutions. Since their debut in 1993, Hoerr's dynamic floral designs have literally stopped traffic. In the early years, when motorists abandoned their cars mid-Mag Mile to snag cast-off plants for their own backyards, Hoerr and the city's Department of Transportation agreed that evening plantings were advised.

By day, the flowers of the Magnificent Mile cannot be kept under wraps. Nor should they be. Michigan Avenue is a premier address, a historic street that offers Lake Michigan views, pastoral park scenery, and bustling commerce. The Chicago River divides Michigan Avenue into a high-rent retail district on the north and a cultural mecca on the south. The north end, the so-called Magnificent Mile, is actually 12 blocks, give or take a few. South of the river, the floral display continues for about 16 blocks. Each year, millions of sightseers amble northward from Roosevelt Road, hit the high notes at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, revel in Renoir at the Art Institute, then gape at the Tiffany glass in Chicago's Cultural Center. Crossing the bridge to the north, dedicated shoppers will find Crate & Barrel, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Neiman Marcus, and more.

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