Located on the picturesque shoreline of Lake Michigan sits the famous Navy Pier. Named in honor of Naval veterans that fought in the 1st World War, Navy Pier served originally as a freight docking station and even as a jail location for draft dodgers in the mid 1918’s. It was officially opened to the public in the mid 1900’s and is still going strong today drawing over 2 million visitors a year.
Over the years, the Pier was purposed for a variety of needs, and again became an important base during WWII in that 10,000 people were housed there for training and military services. A hospital was built at that time and soda shops, barbers and tailors lined the streets.
Eventually after the war was over, the meetings and events that were held at the Pier were plentiful. Pageants, expositions, outdoor recreational activities and festivals took place and turned the Pier into both a mix of shipping activity and attractions. Overtime, the Pier needed to be updated and reviewed in terms of design and best use of space. In 1995 redevelopment took place and it was relaunched to the public as a destination for total fun. Retail stores opened, restaurants popped up and entertainment was introduced. From there, development continued and the iconic Centennial Ferris wheel was constructed, providing spectacular 360 degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. Still a beacon today, the Ferris wheel can be booked as a wonderful addition to a group program.
Navy Pier features so many things – a musical carousel, pedestrian friendly promenade, amusement rides, and cultural attractions such as the Shakespeare Theatre and Children’s museum. You can catch fireworks displays over the major holidays and throughout the summer each week. Unique event spaces are available in addition to private cruise charters that provide a different view of this popular destination.
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