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> Navy Pier is Chicago's #1 tourist destination and is still undergoing redevelopment.
> In 1941, during WWII, the pier served as a training center for the U.S. Navy.
> Fighter pilot training also took place here, and there are dozens of crashed planes sunken nearby as a result.
Navy Pier opened to the public on July 15, 1916. It was part of Burnham and Bennet's 1909 Plan of Chicago and initially called the Municipal Pier. They intended for it to serve as a dock for freighters, passenger traffic, and community events like expositions and pageants. The pier was built by Charles Sumner Frost. The pier was renamed Navy Pier in 1927 in honor of WWI Veterans, and appropriately it became a training center for the U.S. Navy in 1941 during WWII. It was transformed with a gym, barber shop, cobbler, kitchen, and hospital. In total, the pier had approximately 10,000 workers at the time.
After WWII, the pier was home to classes for the University of Illinois at Chicago until they outgrew the location. There were several attempts to reanimate the pier over the next few decades, but nothing stuck until 1995. The Urban Land Institute created the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority who was tasked with bringing life and commerce back to the pier. In 1995 it was reintroduced to the public as the pier you see today and has since grown into Chicago's #1 tourist destination. It prominently features a Ferris Wheel and other rides, in addition to shops, restaurants, cultural performance spaces and fireworks. Unlike previous attempts, efforts to maintain its growth have been implemented. The Centennial Vision was a redevelopment plan that took place from 2014-2016.
Cover image source: Marcin Wichary, CC BY 2.0, no changes made.