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Navy Pier’s new Ferris wheel — bigger, taller, faster

Out in the bigger world, there’s a contest going on to see who can build the biggest Ferris wheel.

Navy Pier respectfully declines to play, in part because its been drawing 8 or 9 million people a year with just a pretty big wheel, in part because one chosen strictly for size “wouldn’t even fit on the pier,” said Brian Murphy, chief operating officer of Navy Pier Inc. “It would take over the pier.”


Chicago’s lakefront tourist mecca unveils its new, taller but not absurdly tall wheel to the public Friday, bringing to near-completion phase one of a makeover of the concrete peninsula designed to make Navy Pier-going more sophisticated and comfortable — “a more modern experience,” in Murphy’s words.

The new attraction, dubbed the Centennial Wheel in honor of the Lake Michigan landmark’s 100th anniversary this July, offers a higher and longer but also higher-speed hoop ride than the one provided by its 148-foot predecessor. The ride is also significantly more expensive.


“The revitalization of the pier gives visitors yet more reason to experience the city,” Marc Anderson, interim CEO of tourism promoter Choose Chicago, said in a statement. The upgrades include improved dining options; a less harsh, more inviting main pier walking area along the South Dock; and a new fountain and parkscape out front of the pier that will also be unveiled Friday.


At 196 feet tall, 48 feet taller than the structure it replaces, the Centennial Wheel is present on the pier but not dominant, occupying roughly the same footprint as the old one, which began offering rides in 1995 and gave its last one here in September.


The old wheel — expected to start offering rides from its new home on Branson, Mo.’s Highway 76 next month — served up about 760,000 rides in 2014, just under 10 percent of all Navy Pier visitors (both figures were down from pier peaks). That was at $8 for an adult ticket.

The new ride, for which tickets are already being sold online, charges $15 for an adult journey in one of 41 eight-person standard gondolas. (Off-season rates will be cheaper, and free riding is being offered in four two-hour, morning time windows this summer.) But because this is contemporary tourism, there are upgrade options that allow the well-heeled to trade extra cash for less wait time or a more exclusive experience: For $25, riders can join the Centennial Wheel’s equivalent of Transportation Security Administration PreCheck, the “Fast Pass” line. For $50, people can ride in the VIP gondola, which features a glass bottom and just four riders.

There’s also a new $35 day pass, which includes all you can handle of the Ferris wheel, the carousel, the Pepsi Wave Swinger, the Light Tower and the new climbing wall, which replaces the old minigolf course that gave way to support structures for the new wheel. Source




Navy Pier Chicago

Location of the Navy Pier

The Navy Pier 1,010 meters long (3,300 feet) on the shoreline of Lake Michigan in the city of Chicago. Navy Pier is in Chicago and located between the Grand Avenue and Illinois at 600 E Grand Avenue, Illinois. The pier is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the community area of Near North Side. Currently, the Navy Pier encompasses over fifty acres of gardens, parks, restaurants, shops, exhibition facilities and family attraction. The pier is the top tourism destination just like Buckingham Fountain in the Midwestern region of the United States of America and the number one leisure destination in Chicago.

History of the Navy pier

In the year 1909, Chicago’s most famous city planner, Daniel Burham wanted Chicago to have a number of piers for entertainment and shipping. Only one pier was built from his plans and it was put at the Chicago River’s mouth. The construction of the Navy Pier began in 1914 and after incurring 4.5 million US Dollars in building, the pier was ready for use by the public.

Navy Pier has always been a population destination and an icon throughout much of the region’s history. The place was opened to the general public in the year 1916. Originally, it was named the “Municipal pier”. The Navy Pier was built under Charles Sumner Frost, a nationally known Architect on the basis of the “Master Plan of Chicago” developed by Daniel Burnham.

In the year 1927, the Municipal pier was renamed to be officially known as the “Navy Pier” as a tribute to the US Navy personnel who during the World War 1 were housed under the Pier. The Pier also served as a recruit barracks during the same World War 1.

In preparation for the World War II, the Navy opened the pier up for other military training programs. These training included; training military personnel to become; metal smiths, technicians of diesel engine and mates to aviation mechanists. The United States navy moved out of the Navy Pier in 1946.

The pier was designated as a landmark of Chicago in the year 1977. In the year 1994, the Navy Pier was redeveloped and improvements were made to almost all of its aspects. It was then reopened in July 1995 and started offering eclectic and diverse experience for visitors. The pier attracts people from all over the world as it is located in a unique setting in the world.

The Navy Pier parking

Navy Pier has an humble parking that facilitates self-parking as well as assisted parking. For those who wish to park by themselves, the pier management recommends you to park in the East Garage with the use of door number 10 for easy access to Seadog.

Parking at Navy Pier is made easy, fast and effective with two on-site garages for parking; the East Garage and the West Garage whereby both are connected to the Navy Pier. These garages are operated by the Standard Parking system which enables the two garages to accommodate 1,500 vehicles.

The East Garage has a 7’9” maximum height clearance and thus, individuals with oversized vans and trucks are advised to park there. The maximum clearance for the West garage is 6’3”. Navy Pier is a very secure place and to enhance and contribute to the safety and security of all people, all vehicles are subject to thorough search.

The institution through Spot Hero parking offers online reservation of the parking space for its customers. You can park in advance with the leading parking reservation in the nation using the reservation app.

Navy Pier References

Caputo, A. C. (2010). Digital video surveillance and security. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier.

Bukowski, D. (2016). Navy Pier: A Chicago landmark. Chicago: Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority.

Driving Directions

Navy Pier
600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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