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Chicago Navy Pier Headhouse
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© Christine Till
Despite its name Chicago's Navy Pier was not designed to be a military center. It was created for shipping and recreational purposes. In 1909, Daniel Burnham, the most famous Chicago city planner, wanted Chicago to have several piers for shipping and entertainment. Only one was built however, and that one was placed at the mouth of the Chicago River. Construction of the formerly named Municipal Pier began in 1914, and after $4.5 million in building costs, the pier opened to the public in 1916.
While the shipping part of the pier was doing okay, the entertainment aspect was thriving. In the late 1910s, a streetcar line, a theater and restaurants was built on the pier, and Municipal Pier experienced its best years in 1921 and 1922, when Chicago Mayor William H. Thompson's "Pageants of Progress" draw nearly a million visitors during 15 days of events.
The good times would not last, however. During the Great Depression freight and passenger traffic declined, but cultural and recreational use of the pier continued.
After WWII, from 1946 to 1965, what is now known as the University of Illinois at Chicago used the pier as an undergraduate campus. In the 1950s, Navy Pier was the primary convention center for Chicago, with 12-16 trade shows or exhibits held annually.
McCormick Place, which was built in 1960, destroyed by fire in 1967, and re-opened in 1971, became the city's main convention center, and in the early 1970s Navy Pier fell into disuse.
Fortunately, Chicago declared Navy Pier a landmark in 1977, and in 1994 a $150 million Navy Pier redevelopment project was commenced. On July 12, 1995, the new Navy Pier re-opened, with year-round shops, restaurants, attractions and exhibition facilities.
February 19th, 2013
Viewed 488 Times - Last Visitor from New York, NY on 02/01/2015 at 2:14 AM
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