I was told that the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel is the world's first Ferris wheel and still the largest ever built. The ocasion was the World Columbian Exposition in 1893.
It is 150 feet high (I was told by I friend of mine and I never bother to convert it in meters but it was HIGH) and gives a wonderful view to the lakefront and Lake Michigan.
In the evening, thousands of lights illuminate the Ferris wheel's spokes.
Friday and Saturday: 10.00 h -24.00 h
Sunday to Tuersday: 10.00 h -22.00 h
- Adults $4;
- Seniors $3.50;
- Children Free
Here is a correction I recived by Dabs (Kristi):
"The ferris wheel at Navy Pier is not the original one from the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The first Ferris wheel was much larger, and held over 2,160 people at one time. It was shipped to St. Louis for their fair and then dismantled in 1906. The Ferris wheel at Navy Pier only holds 240 people."
I also took the liberty to add the link she recommended in case people are interested in more detailed information.
Thanks for the comment, Kristi. I really find it helpful :)
When I read some stuff about Navy Pier I found out that the place was initially built as a shipping facility and recreation spot in 1916. I thing that now it is on of the key tourist attraction of Chicago. Probably because it has its own atmosphere.
You will find there:
- Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
- Chicago Children's Museum
- Amazing Chicago maze
- the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows
- lots of outdoor sculptures
- Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
The place is great for just walking around. If you have the time and the money you can also try a boat ride around the pier and the surrounding areas.
It is up to you
Sunday to Tursday:
10.00 h - 20.00 h
Friday to Saturday:
10.00 h - 22.00 h
Chicago's #1 Tourist Attraction (according to the tourism guide), the Navy Pier is a huge entertainment facility in the Streeterville section on Lake Michigan. Lots of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, including an IMAX movie theatre, Chicago Children's Museum, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Fun House, midway rides (including the iconic Ferris Wheel), a beer garden, convention hall, and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows (see separate tip here on VT).
Admission to the Navy Pier is FREE, but most of the attractions do require a separate admission fee. Lots of Chicago boat, walking, and Segway tours leave from Navy Pier, so it makes for a central meeting place.
Several stages inside the Pier, including one just outside the Children's Museum, offer free musical entertainment periodically during the day. Lots of fun, and a definite "must see" when you go to Chicago.
Inside the Navy Pier is this wonderful museum with FREE admission - a permanent collection of over 150 stained glass windows and doors, including some made by Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge, and some made in Chicago. A beautiful display, easy to maneuver, includes several "specialized" alcoves displaying the work of Tiffany, and religious scenes to name a couple.
I loved this and was totally captivated - I took over 80 photographs in the museum...
Even though I have been to Navy Pier many times, I had never walked the entire area until my friend Rosie [rozehill} and I spent several hours there in October, 2008.
I will say that I was impressed with the vastness of the area, the historic significance of the architecture, and the number of different activities offered.
The first thing that we saw was 19 acres of park called Gateway Park. Of that area, I enjoyed the digital computerized granite fountain as seen in my 5th photograph. Rosie and I were mesmerized by the shooting water, colored lights, and continual patterns created.
After the lovely park, we came upon the Headhouse and Auditorium, two historic buildings on the Navy Pier. Both buildings were designed by architect Charles Summer Frost in about 1916. They are the most western of the structures here. My first photograph is of Navy Pier Headhouse. This name comes from the area at the time of its construction [Headlands]. Then, the two towers housed tanks for the fire sprinkler system. Today, the Headhouse is the Chicago's Children Museum.
You cannot go to Navy Pier without seeing up close the 1893 World Columbian Exposition Ferris Wheel. This Ferris Wheel is 148 feet high. See Photograph #2
Moving eastward, we saw an attractive glass structure towering over the area. It is the seven-story Shakespeare Theater Complex that features a 525 seat theater. I just read in the paper, that one of the plays presented there this summer has won a Jefferson Award.
Rosie and I also saw the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows which did not open until 2000. I have a tip about it also
I also thought the 44 foot high musical carousel with its hand-painted animals was a delight.
In addition Navy Pier features: an 18-hole miniature golf course, an IMAX Theater, a 40 foot high wave swinger, and a Fun House Maze. [because it was October, a special Halloween exhibition was available]. Furthermore, Navy Pier has the Crystal Gardens ( one-acre indoor glass atrium with 70 palm trees.
No doubt, the boat trips available at Navy Pier are numerous. There are so many cruises from which to choose. I have a tip about the cruise that Allan and I took with grand daughter Sabrina.
Navy Pier's long and interesting history: It was first known as Municipal Pier and originally designed as a shipping & entertainment area, but during both WWI and WWII, it was used as a military facility. In 1927, it was renamed NAVY PIER in honor of WWI Veterans.
Then in served as the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois. Once the university move , the pier went into decline. In 1976, redevelopment began and went on until 1994. The updates, additions, and renovations are continual. Today, it attracts over 8 million visitors per year. Rosie and I were two of those visitors!
While standing beside the M.V. 'Abegweit', a simple turn to the north revealed some great views of Chicago's downtown core. Looking across a few of the many pleasure boats moored in Monroe Harbor, which also stretches for a long distance on the other side of the 'Abegweit', I could see the distant top of the John Hancock Center with its twin anntenae poking up amid the forest of modern glass skyscrapers. Although I never had time to actually visit it, by swivelling a bit further to the east I also had a great view of the amusements located on Navy Pier (2nd photo), all the way from its Ferris Wheel at the left to the twin towers of the Grand Ballroom at the end of the line.
Navy Pier is a fun place to visit for all the family. Offering visitors more than 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, restaurants and attractions.
Also when visiting Navy Pier you get a great view of the Chicago Skyline, great for taking some fantastic pictures to get everyone at home jealous.
It screams "Tourist Trap" and is the type of place I usually avoid like the plague but amid the sweaty throngs, cheap tchotchke shops and mediocre restaurants are a couple of reasons to make the walk. Waaaay down on the end - past the amusement rides, buskers, beer garden and river-tour kiosks - the century-old Grand Ballroom towers majestically over the water. On the open terrace you can catch Lake Michigan breezes and watch the boat traffic with an ice cream or hot dog picked up from vendors along the way: a nice break on a hot afternoon.
The beer garden offer lives music in the summer, and a family stage has all sorts of free entertainment for the wee folk: juggling, clowns, magic acts, puppets shows, etc. Catch the fireworks on summer or holiday evenings, an IMAX show on a rainy day, or take the tots to the Children's Museum.
An outstanding bargain for art lovers is the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. This fascinating collection includes a wonderful selection of Tiffany works and impressive creations from lesser-known artisans. The pieces were largely collected from structures within the Chicago area so are a colorful piece of the city's architectural past. The museum is free and highly recommended: see my next review.
A printable map for Navy Pier attractions may be downloaded here, and see the website for more info on events, hours, amusement ride prices, restaurants, etc.
We stumbled into this one by mistake and were so glad we did: what a gem!! The Smith Museum of Stained Glass, an excellent display of 150 windows collected largely from Chicago buildings, was the first of its type in the United States and is entirely free for exploring. Appropriately darkened rooms glow with brilliant, backlit color, and of special interest are 13 gorgeous works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and a few designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Architectural eras exhibited include Victorian, Prairie, Art Nouveau and contemporary, and themes from religious to purely decorative.
This is a must for visitors with a love or art and/or architecture, and even those less interested will enjoy a walk through the beautifully illuminated halls. Bring your camera: snaps of the windows make gorgeous screen-savers!
A map of museum's location at Navy Pier can be found here and the website has 2 nice brochures which can be browsed online or downloaded to bring along. Open Sundays through Thursdays 10 a.m. - 8 p.m; Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
When walking around Navy Pier you will see lots of outdoor sculptures.
So I did and I could not stop myself to act as a typical tourist and to ask for a picture.
Obviously I asked the wrong person judging by the "clear cut" image you see on the picture :)
The Navy Pier is a massive hunk of concrete that reaches out into the waters of Lake Michigan. It offers fantastic views of the city skyline, along with all kinds of touristy entertainment, like a fun fair. The fair has a giant ferris wheel that offers even more amazing views of the city. It's a huge platform in the water, though, and so there's more than that. Plenty of restaurants and bars, and when I was there, there was something special going on.
A huge queue had gathered outside a ballroom. The people were all excited, and holding strange objects, sometimes with large paper rolls under their arm. I asked one guy at the end of the queue what it was all about: it was an audition for American Inventor.
The pier was originally called Municipal Pier No.2 (the first one never got built). It was used primarily for disembarking the passenger boats that once plied the lake in large number. With the decline of passenger ships on the lake, it was taken over by the Navy during WW2 (hence the name), and then became a massively popular public venue.
Navy Pier was originally a freight train terminal in 1909; during both world wars, it served as a U.S. military training facility; during the 1970s and 1980s, it was abandoned. Today, it is one of Chicago's best attractions. It was saved by a $150 million grant from the state. Now, more than 8 million people visit the pier each year.
It has a carnival-type atmosphere, and It's a showcase for unique shops, restaurants, exhibitions, threaters, and sports.
Some of the pier's attractions:
a. Crystal Gardens, located on the east end of the Family Pavilion, is a one-acre indoor palm court enclosed in a glass atrium.
b. Chicago Shakespeare Theatre featuring a 500-seat stageand an English Pub that seats 180 people..
c. Imax Theater where there is a six-story-high, 80-foot-wide screen and 3D movies are shown.
e. Chicago Children's Museum where kids can interact with the educational exhibits.
f. Ferris Wheel that is 150-foot-high and is sponsored by McDonalds. It has 40 gondolas which seat six passengers each. AT night its 40 spokes are illuminated by thousands of white lights.
g. Musical carousel which was exclusively designed for Navy pier is located near the Ferris whell and fashioned from the 1920's.
It has 36 hand-painted animals, and it is 44-foot high.
h. Skyline Stage ice skating rink is roofed and tower 100-feet in the air.
i. Miniature Golf is 18 hoes and is at the base of the Ferris wheel.
j. Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.
k. Many wonderful restaurants for every price range.
l. .Several Pier shops.
m. Dinner cruises and tour boats.
n. Fireworks set off every Wednesday and Saturday night.
There is something for every age group here.
Although I've included Navy Pier on my tourist trap tips, there are actually several things about Navy Pier that I really enjoy.
One is the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, a free museum featuring 150 windows by well known artists such as Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge, windows with religious themes and some contemporary subjects such as Martin Luther King and Michael Jordan.
The museum is free to visit and every Thursday at 2 pm there is a free tour of the museum.
MUST SEE sights abound on other pages. I want to list a few that don't readily come to mind.
The view over the lakefront and towards downtown from the 6th floor washrooms and atrium stairway at the Shakespeare Theatre.
Best viewed at night.
Take in a show and at intermission take the elevator to the top and walk down. Indescribable!
In the lobby you will discover another treasure: 'psychedelic Shakespeare' by the late, great Chicago artist, Ed Paschke.
Away from the Magnificent Mile, the area along the river between Michigan Avenue and the lake is at the center of a massive redevelopment project, at least partially attributed to the success of the renovated Navy Pier, at East Illinois Street. Since undergoing a facelift in 1995, the pier has become the city's premier tourist destination, attracting more than eight million visitors annually to its shops, chain restaurants, 3D-IMAX theater and fifteen-story Ferris wheel. The pier, home to the Chicago Children's Museum (daily 10am-5pm; $6.50, free family night Thurs 5-8pm; ), is also a venue for concerts and weekend festivals in summer and an embarkation point for several boat tours, including Shoreline Sightseeing Co ($9; tel 312-222-9328, ). Shoreline runs thirty-minute cruises along the lakeshore from Navy Pier (weather permitting) year-round.