I have to admit…before traveling to Chicago I had never even heard of Navy Pier before. Even once I landed and spent the first day walking around the city with Sunshine, Navy Pier wasn’t on my list of tourism destinations to visit.
After hitting up the Shedd Aquarium and taking the Architecture River Tour, Random Esquire and Sunshine were stoked about taking me to Navy Pier and getting on the 15-story tall Ferris Wheel. This was my first time seeing it from the boat tour…
Ummm…nope. Not happening. Do you see how large that thing is??
Yet on we began to walk…making our way through the city streets to the Navy Pier. I started to wonder…just what in the heck WAS Navy Pier, anyway?
Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot long pier that was built in 1916 at a cost of $4.5 million. 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, so warehouses were built up and down the Pier. Today, Navy Pier is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction with 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, eateries, and attractions.
As a side note, Random’s grandmother was sworn in as an American citizen at Navy Pier around twenty years ago. She immediately turned to Random and asked who she should vote for (I believe “Clinton” was the answer). How awesome of a memory is this to have of your grandmother and of a local landmark?
So we arrived and, as you’d expect, I could see the Ferris wheel from down the frickin’ block. I was told that I’d be mocked mercilessly if I didn’t go up on the slow-moving attraction, so I was pretty much backed into a corner. As we continued to walk towards it, I became more and more nervous about the whole experience. I mean, it was moving extremely slow (one rotation takes about seven minutes) and it was extremely safe, but to someone who is afraid of heights it still wasn’t the most comfortable situation to be in.
We stood in line and I could barely look up without wanting to fall backwards. As Random and Sunshine got on board, I almost said “Have fun!” and walked towards the exit. I didn’t, though…and nervously got on.
My stomach did somersaults but I did my best to hold it together. Random took a couple of shots and even managed to capture me looking adoringly at Sunshine in the midst of my own personal “Fear Factor”:
Sunshine and I then took some pics while we were at the very top…
We spent the next hour or so walking in and around Navy Pier, trying to soak in as much of the atmosphere as we could. The only problem was that Navy Pier is primarily a summertime attraction, so most of it was shut down for the fall and it wasn’t very busy at all. That actually helped us not feel rushed when walking around.
As the sun began to set, we snapped a few more pictures on our way out.
Having enjoyed Navy Pier in the off-season, I can only imagine how much fun it would be in the summer. I’ve been told that the Fourth of July fireworks have to be seen to be believed and that it’s truly a hot-spot in the warmer months. I look forward to visiting Chicago again just for that very experience.