The Fascinating History of Navy Pier

There are so many attractions in the great city of Chicago that it’s practically impossible to see it all in one weekend. But, for those limited on time while in the Windy City, Navy Pier is always a top priority. From its iconic Ferris wheel to its serene Crystal Gardens to its multitude of restaurants, Navy Pier has become a top destination in downtown Chicago.

Navy Pier

But how did Navy Pier become what it is today? Here’s a brief history of Navy Pier.

Navy Pier’s origins began in 1909 when city planner Daniel Burnham had the idea to build several recreational piers in Chicago. Only one was eventually built, costing $4.5 million (a lot of money back then!) and opening in 1916. At that time it was called Municipal Pier. It became a hub of entertainment in the rollicking 1920s and even survived through the Great Depression.

Interestingly, during the World Wars, the US military housed regiments of soldiers, Home Defense personnel, and Red Cross efforts on the pier. That’s why it was renamed Navy Pier in 1927 to honor the Navy veterans.

Over the next decades, it was the site of numerous conventions but after a fire tore through it, the pier fell into disuse by 1971.

Luckily, it was declared a historic landmark by the city in 1977 and the following decades were spent renovating Navy Pier into a $150 million attraction that was re-launched in 1995.

Next time you’re in Chicago, spend an afternoon at Navy Pier. And if you have time for a second place, visit us at Friendly Ford!

Ford Tests Driverless Vehicles in Snowy Conditions

snowy roadSeveral automakers are currently testing driverless technology. However, Ford Motor Company is going above and beyond to test driverless vehicles in a variety of conditions.

One of the biggest questions about driverless cars is how the sensors and cameras will be able to function in snow or other bad weather. Autonomous vehicles use sensors, cameras, radar, and other technology to pinpoint their location, but what will happen when snow covers the cameras and lane markers?

Ford is working to solve that problem by testing a fleet of driverless Fusion Hybrids on a snow-covered, 32-acre, closed-course testing facility in Ann Arbor. Ford has been working with the University of Michigan to develop special 3D maps. These maps will allow the vehicle to precisely understand the road’s signs and markings no matter what the weather.

Fusion Hybrid

Fusion Hybrid

The 3D maps are created to contain useful information allowing the car to localize, even with snowy conditions. Ford is even hoping to enable the program to recognize when the weather is too rough and stop driving.

Jim McBride, Ford technical leader for autonomous vehicles, said in a statement, “Weather isn’t perfect, and that’s why we’re testing autonomous vehicles in wintry conditions — for the roughly 70% of US residents who live in snowy regions.”

We at Friendly Ford are thankful that we are part of a company that cares about the safety of its customers. Being in Chicago, we know about snow and are excited to see the testing of driverless vehicles in snowy conditions!