Postcards from Chicago: #4 Navy Pier

by Wes Douglas, USk Chicago

Front entrance of Navy Pier by Wes Douglas

As we look forward to the 8th International Symposium, I will continue to take you on a virtual tour of our favorite views of Chicago which we have named “Postcards from Chicago.” Each week I will post a different scene of Chicago – some may be familiar to you and some may be less familiar – and by the time I am done it should be time for the Symposium. To help me illustrate the popularity of this location, I am happy to feature the works of fellow Chicago Urban Sketchers Eileen Ferguson, Emmanuel Semmes, Fred Polito, Amy Larsen and Alex Zonis.

This week, we travel east from Calder’s Flamingo all the way back to Lake Michigan and a famous port known as Navy Pier. Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long (1,010 m) pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community area. The Navy Pier currently encompasses more than fifty acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions and exhibition facilities and is the top leisure destination in the Midwest, drawing nearly nine million visitors annually. It is one of the most visited attractions in the entire Midwestern United States and is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction. Navy Pier opened to the public on July 15, 1916.

The Chicago Skyline from Navy Pier by Fred Polito

The famed Ferris wheel from Navy Pier by Amy Larsen

Originally named “Municipal Pier,” Navy Pier was to be a dock for freights, passenger traffic and a space for indoor and outdoor recreation for the public. Many events were held at the pier, such as expositions, pageants and other types of entertainment. In the summer of 1918 the pier was also used as a jail for draft dodgers. In 1927, the pier was renamed Navy Pier to honor the naval veterans who served in the First World War.


Emmanuel Semmes                                      Eileen Martin Ferguson

The Chicago Skyline from Navy Pier by Alex Zonis

Starting in 2014, the redevelopment plan called The Centennial Vision was implemented. The purpose of this plan is to fulfill the mission to keep Navy Pier as a world-class public space and to renovate the pier so it will have more evening and year-round entertainment and more compelling landscape and design features. The Centennial Vision was completed in summer 2016. On May 21st of this year, Urban Sketchers Chicago visited this spectacle and were able to come away with pages of sketches on a warm Spring day.


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