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.
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!