This year Chicago’s Navy Pier is celebrating its 100th birthday…
Visitors coming to one of the most popular destinations in the city and the State will find a number of updates and renovations to the iconic lakefront attraction.
The renovations have been slotted as a multi-phase project, with the first phase nearing completion this summer. The Ferris Wheel, which has been one of the main attractions to the pier over the years, has been updated and will open over Memorial Day weekend. The new wheel is roughly 196 feet tall, nearly 50 feet higher than the previous wheel. It has 42 temperature regulated, enclosed gondolas that will be able to accommodate up to ten people. There will also be interactive video screens in each gondola that will display information about the city and Navy Pier over the course of the ride. In addition, the exterior of the wheel has also been updated with lights built into the spokes that have the ability to change color and can be programed to present a customized show for special occasions.
The first phase update also includes upgrades to the main promenade on the south side of the pier. It has been updated to allow easier access to the water for pedestrians and views of the city and Lake Michigan. A number of seating options and planters have been added to the area to create a beautiful green space for relaxing and enjoying the pier.
At the entrance of the pier, Polk Bros. Park, formerly knowns as Gateway Park, will open a 13-acre space that features a lighted fountain with 250 programmable water jets, two performance stages and a promenade that leads guests eastward toward the pier. The space is designed so that the fountain area can be converted into an ice skating rink during the winter months, thereby allowing it to be used year-round.
Over the course of the next year, there will be updates to the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the dining area, the Chicago Children’s Museum, the indoor Botanical Gardens, and an addition of a hotel, which will be the first one built one ever built on the pier. Overall the project will enhance what is already one of the most cherished landmarks in the city.