The history of Navy Pier begins in 1909 when the 1.5-mile pier was commissioned to service both freight and passenger docking facilities. Construction began in 1914 and was completed in 1916. Two years later, the Municipal Pier opened to the public. The pier's history took a turn during World War I when its focus as an entertainment venue changed to being a home for soldiers, Red Cross personnel, and new recruits from 1917 to 1918.
In 1927, the name of the Municipal Pier was officially changed to Navy Pier in honor of the military personnel who had served during the war. The interesting history of Navy Pier also relates to World War II, as it served as a training post for military personnel; approximately 60,000 people were trained here by 1946.
By 1965, Navy Pier Chicago had changed hands as the Navy moved out in 1946 and the University of Illinois moved in and stayed until 1965 when a new campus was built for the students. Navy Pier served as a convention center for several years and then fell into disuse and disrepair until 1976, when the city set about renovating the Grand Ballroom for the Bicentennial. Another important date in the history of Navy Pier came in 1977, when it was designated as a Chicago Landmark.
Chicago Navy Pier
Years went by, and Navy Pier Chicago hosted numerous events and recreational activities until 1994, when a redevelopment project was put into action to renovate the site. In 1995, Navy Pier reopened as an entertainment venue featuring restaurants, attractions, and exhibits.
Navy Pier Chicago, situated on 50 acres beside Lake Michigan, also includes gardens, shops, and rides, along with dining cruises and boat tours. It is one of the premier all-in-one fun location for visitors, including those looking for things to do with kids in Chicago.
One of the main attractions for tourists is the 150-foot-high Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, which is located on the upper deck of the pier. The seven-minute ride provides spectacular views of the skyscrapers that make up the Chicago skyline and clear views of Chicago's lakefront. The original Ferris wheel was built specifically for the World's Columbian Exposition that took place in 1893. The current Navy Pier Ferris wheel, was fashioned after the original.
The Ferris wheel is a thrilling ride anytime for visitors of all ages. At night, the wheel is brightly illuminated by thousands of lights placed on each of the 40 spokes and can be easily seen from across Lake Michigan. The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel can comfortably seat up to six passengers at a time in each of the 40 gondolas.
The pier also features an 18-hole miniature golf course, remote-controlled boats, the Children's Museum, IMAX theater, dancers, acrobats, and a lovely work of art in the musical carousel with 36 hand-painted animals. There are also rides, such as the Wave Swinger, which lifts guests fourteen feet into the air before swinging around, and the Light Tower Ride, which bounces riders thirteen feet to the top of the tower and then back down.
The food court, located in the Family Pavilion, contains numerous restaurants along with retail and souvenir shops. Navy Pier is open year-round except for Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. Different tickets can be purchased, including a single ticket good for one ride, a single ride combo tickets good for two to five rides, and family combo packages that are good for ten rides.