It has definitely been raining here in the Windy City like it is spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like spring. The weather has been a bit of a rollercoaster, going from sunny a seventy degrees one day to rainy and forty degrees for the next week.
Even with the unpredictable weather and the crazy overload of the end of the semester (and the semester!) I wanted to explore and learn about a few iconic Chicago landmarks before my time in the city came to an end.
One of the top ‘Must-Dos’ on my list was Navy Pier:
Navy Pier was constructed in 1915 and opened to the public in 1916. It was built by architect Charles Sumner Frost and designed by Daniel Burnham and Edward H Bennett. Originally it was named Municipal Pier because the pier was used as a dock for freights, control passenger traffic, and a space for recreation for the public. During the First World War, it was also used as a prison for “dodgers” or anyone who tried to avoid the draft. In 1927, the pier was renamed Navy Pier as a dedication of those who served in the First World War.
Fun Fact: The first Ferris wheel was built by George Washington Ferris Jr in 1893 for the Chicago World Fair. He wanted to construct something taller than the Eiffel Tower and would give people a “bird’s-eye view” of the fair in Chicago. While the height of the Ferris wheel may have been much shorter than the Eiffel tower, it did not disappoint expectations left everyone calling the wheel ‘Ferris’ Wheel.
Last year the Navy Pier Centennial Ferris Wheel was redesigned and rebuilt for the Centennial anniversary of Navy Pier. The new Wheel is 196 feet tall and has 42 gondolas that are colored blue for the signature Navy Pier look. Each gondola can hold up to eight people and has individual seats instead of benches, making it one of a kind.
Today the pier is roughly 3,300 feet long and has more than fifty acres of gardens, shops, food and restaurants, and attractions to entertain you all day long. Navy Pier is one of the top destinations in the city and attractions around nine million visitors annually.
Last year, a few friends and I stayed out and stood in line all night to ride The Last Ride” on the old Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier before they began construction on the new one. It seemed fitting to wait until the end of my semester senior year to ride the new Ferris wheel for the first time. It was a little grey and cold the day we went, but that just meant we got the entire gondola to ourselves. It was an amazing experience to be able to move around and see Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline from 196 feet up in the air. The Wheel went a faster than we thought (probably because there weren't many people getting on) and it went around three times. It is definitely a worthy treat when you are at the pier along with all of the other activities it has to offer for every season.
xx A Traveler's Bliss
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)