Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicago - Navy Pier

19-5-2010(Wednesday) Chicago

The Chicago City’s 29 miles of lakefront paths are just one reason Chicago is one of the world’s most walkable and beautiful cities. The lakefront paths or trails are along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, one of the lakes in Great Lake. One of the top tourist destination in Chicago is Navy Pier. It is located at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, at the lakefront of Lake Michigan.

Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot (1,010 m) long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, eateries and attractions. It is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. The pier was built in 1916 at a cost of $4.5 million, equivalent to $89.7 million today. It was a part of the Plan of Chicago developed by architect and city planner Daniel Burnham and his associates. As Municipal Pier #2 (Municipal Pier #1 was never built), Navy Pier was planned and built to serve as a mixed-purpose piece of public infrastructure. Its primary purpose was as a cargo facility for lake freighters, and warehouses were built up and down the pier. However, the pier was also designed to provide docking space for passenger excursion steamers, and in the pre-air conditioning era parts of the pier, especially its outermost tip, were designed to serve as cool places for public gathering and entertainment. The pier even had its own streetcar.

Located on Lake Michigan, just East of Chicago's Downtown, Navy Pier has been a Chicago landmark since it first opened in 1916. Originally designed as both a shipping and recreational facility, the Pier also served as a military training site during two world wars, a venue for concerts and exhibitions, and the temporary home for a once-fledgling University of Illinois' Chicago campus.

As the Pier fell into disuse during much of the 1970s and 1980s, the State of Illinois and Chicago embarked on a joint plan whereby, in 1989, ownership of the Pier was transferred to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the same body which oversees Chicago's McCormick Place. The Authority moved swiftly to redesign Navy Pier into one of the country's most unique recreation and exposition facilities.

Today, Navy Pier is Chicago's number one tourist attraction

Navy Pier attractions include sightseeing tours from companies such as Seadog I, II, IV, and Extreme, Shoreline Sightseeing cruises and Water Taxi service, and the Tall Ship Windy. There are also dinner cruises by the Spirit of Chicago, The Odyssey, and the Mystic Blue Cruise line. Other attractions include rides like the Ferris Wheel along with many seasonal festivals for Halloween and Christmas. The pier has fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday nights during the summer and Friday and Saturday nights during the fall.

The popular Strictly Sail boat show and Chicago Flower and Garden Show are held at the Pier as well as many other fairs and expositions throughout the year. Also a part of Navy Pier is the Childrens' Museum with many different exhibits and activities for both children and adults to enjoy while visiting the museum. The pier also has an IMAX theater, and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, many of which were salvaged from Chicago mansions.

An anchor from the naval vessel USS Chicago (CA-136) is on display at the far end of the pier. Is it the only landmark related to the Navy?....and the name of Navy Pier. Preferably the whole naval vessel is display here to reflect the name of Navy Pier, like the one at Fisherman Wharf(San Francisco),and San Diego harbor.

(extracted from wikipedia and Navy Pier's websites)

View Larger Map

It is easy going to Navy Pier from the Loop or downtown; there are bus service direct to Navy Pier.

Seagulls at Navy Pier and Navy Pier Park
A lot of seagulls at Navy Pier, a brave birds that is not afraid of human. They come very close to the tourist and visitors, looking for food. Just beside the Navy Pier, fronting the park, there is a long stretch of narrow land mass, bordered with tires, which is the nesting ground for seagulls. You can see the seagulls, big or small, flying all over the place. Some in the sky flying, some walking, some playing with other seagulls. If you are taking Lake Michigan shoreline cruise, you can come close to the nesting ground.

While waiting for the Lake Michigan shoreline cruise, we have a chance to talk with one old lady from mainland China, who was visiting with her granddaughter at the Navy Pier. She was staying at the Condominium nearby, with her daughter's family. Despite not knowing a single word of English, she enjoyed the time in USA. Where she is more relax, compare to mainland China. Her husband however was not used to life in USA. She is happy because of her granddaughter, the joy of playing with the child.

Lake Michigan shoreline cruise
River cruise and Lake Michigan cruise - exploring the city’s astonishing architecture during a guided tour (on foot or aboard a Chicago River boat, lakeshore cruise or sightseeing bus).

Skyline Lake Tours offer breathtaking views of Chicago city’s famous skyscrapers from an amazing vantage point on Lake Michigan. These tours depart from South docks at Navy Pier, Chicago’s #1 tourist attraction. The river cruise however depart from Navy Pier Park, you need to walk along N Streeter Drive(outside the entrance of Navy Pier), go to jetty near Lakefront Trails to take the boat for river cruise.

Note: Opposite the jetty is the DuSable Park, an urban park where currently awaiting redevelopment. One of the project adjacent to the park is Chicago Spike. It was reported in wikipedia article, that soil tests performed at the location of DuSable Park in December 2000 showed contamination of radioactive thorium. From 1904 through 1936, the Lindsay Light Company processed ores which contained thorium to manufacture thorium impregnated gas mantles. It was suspected that after the plant closed, contaminated soil was dumped on the location of the proposed park.In March 2003, the Chicago Park District stated that the thorium clean-up on that land was incomplete.[11] It has been reported that Shelbourne Development will soon be taking soil samples to determine the severity of the radioactive contamination.(source: wikipedia)

Chicago River Cruise
We joined Shoreline on an exciting journey as we tour the Chicago River and its architectural landmarks. Shoreline's experienced and entertaining guides recount the dramatic story of Chicago's rise from the Great Fire of 1871 to become the home of the skyscraper and the cradle of modern American architecture. Along the route are buildings by world-famous architects including Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Lake Michigan Shoreline Cruises depart from the Navy Pier docks.

The Chicago River Cruise is the best part of the Chicago attraction, the boat passes through bridges and buildings along the river. We can see the beautiful skyscrapers including the Willis Tower. This is the climax of the Chicago tour. Compared to the Lake Michigan shoreline cruise, the Chicago River Cruise is much better, as it is also Chicago River Architecture tour where you can see the beautiful buildings along the river, and going under the bridges along the way. There are people in the bridge, at the sail boats, restaurants & cafe along the river, waving hands to you. The Michigan Lake shoreline cruise is dull and the view of the attractions are far from the boat. If you have done Chicago City walking tour, the familiar buildings will provided you with the thrills of recognize them, locate them. The magnificent view from the river is different from the view from the city tour. If you come to Chicago, Chicago River Cruise is a must.

Museum of Stained Glass Windows

If you like stained glass, this is the museum you must visit. The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier, is the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to stained glass windows. This permanent display of 150 stained glass windows is housed in an 800-ft.-long series of galleries along the lower level terraces of Festival Hall. It showcases both secular and religious windows and is divided by artistic theme into four categories: Victorian, Prairie, Modern and Contemporary.

Navy Park is true tourist destination, not only bring your camera, but also more American dollars, as this the place that will attract every dollars you have in your pocket. A true tourist attraction, nothing to do with Chicago....have a nice day, tourists.....and your money.

Oliver Park & Ohio Street Beach
Leaving the Navy Pier, we went to the Navy Pier Park to have some photo. After that we walk to Park Drive and straight to East Ohio Street at the entrance of Pfc Milton Olive Park, which we did not enter. We have a rest at the bench at the park enjoying the sunshine and resting our tired legs for a while. Opposite the park is the small beach front of Lake Michigan. It is called Ohio Street Beach, the beach fronting the street!. A small beach in Olive Park located just north of Ohio Street (400N), east of Lake Shore Drive. It faces north, rather than the usual east, because it formed on its own in a bay created by the Jardine Water Purification Plant which juts out into the Lake. The beach lead to Lakefront Trail, which is along N Lakeshore Drive. The beach however is not crowded. There are many runners and cyclist enjoying their summer time here.

The video was taken at Ohio Street Beach, the name Navy Pier Beach is wrong. It is however close to Navy Pier, but located nearer to Oliver Park entrance. You can sit at the benches at Oliver Park and enjoy the view of the beach, as well as the city, east of Chicago downtown or Near North Side. The beach is within the city and fronting the street. Watch up for the background, the skyscrapers of the city. No wonder the kid just have fun at the beach....

From there, we crossed the street to begin our journey to Hancock building and start shopping at Magnificent Miles. For those planning to come to Chicago, remember the Chicago River Cruise, you can take it at the Loop, not necessary to come all the way to Navy Pier.

Related websites & articles:

1. Navy Pier official website -

No comments:

Post a Comment