Located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Chicago’s Navy Pier is a 1 km or 3,300 foot long pier located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community. Built in 1916, the pier cost roughly 4.5 million to construct. The design and concept of the Pier was part of architect and city planner Daniel Burnham and his associates, Plan for Chicago. This included the Navy Pier to serve as a mixed-purpose piece of public infrastructure.
Warehouses were built up and down the pier as the primary purpose of the pier was to serve as a cargo facility for lake freighters. The Pier was also designed to provide docking space for passenger boats, while some the Pier served as a cool gathering spot for public gatherings and entertainment. At one time, the Pier even had its own tram.
The Navy Pier today is Chicago’s top tourist attraction. Additional popular attractions include: sightseeing tours from companies such as Shoreline Sightseeing cruises; Seadog Ventures; the Tall Ship Windy; and a Water Taxi service. There are several popular dinner cruise boats, including the Mystic Blue, the Spirit of Chicago, and The Odyssey II. On Wednesday and Sundays during the summer and on Saturday during the fall, the Pier hosts a fireworks show in the evenings.
The Pier is home to numerous fairs and expos that are held throughout the year and also hosts the popular Strictly Sail boat show as well as the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Halloween and Christmas are popular seasonal festivals for the Navy Pier. The Chicago Children’s Museum is located on the Navy Pier, with its large collection of works for both children and adults to enjoy. Also located on the Pier are the IMAX theatre and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, which were salvaged from many Chicago area mansions.
Notable Navy Pier Attractions
Pier Park – is a landscaped area outdoors on the upper deck, located between the Pepsi Skyline Stage and the Crystal Gardens.
The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel – is a 150 foot or 46 meter high Ferris wheel. Designed and manufactured by Vekoma, the Ferris wheel was opened in 1995, and operates year round, weather permitting. The ride features 40 gondolas, holding up to 6 passengers each. The 40 spokes are illuminated in the evenings.
USS Chicago Anchor – this anchor is on display at the far end of the Pier.
Amusements and Rides – The Pier is home to numerous rides, including the token-operated remote control boats; the Wave Swinger, which is a swinging thrill ride nearly 12 m or 40 feet high; and the Light Tower Ride. The Pier also has an 18-hole miniature golf course.