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Navy Pier Fun Facts! 10 Things You Never Knew!

November 20, 2013


Navy Pier has been a staple in Chicago ever since the early 20th century, and it’s the Midwest’s #1 tourist and leisure destination, but how well do you know the Pier? Here are some fun facts to test your knowledge and quiz your friends!

  • Daniel Burnham, famous architect of the World’s Fair, originally envisioned five piers in his “Master Plan of Chicago,” but Navy Pier was the only one built.
  • Navy Pier was designed by architect Charles Sumner Frost and opened to the public in 1916 as “Municipal Pier”. It was the only pier to combine a shipping dock with public entertainment.
  • Navy Pier once housed a prison for draft dodgers during World War I. “Municipal Pier” was renamed “Navy Pier” in 1927 as a tribute to the Navy personnel who served in the war.
  • During World War II, the U.S. Navy used the Pier as a training center for pilots. One of those pilots who qualified for military service was George H. W. Bush.
  • From 1946 to 1965, Navy Pier was home to the University of Illinois at Chicago, and more than 100,000 students attended classes there during that time.
  • Between the years of 1978-1982, Navy Pier was host to ChicagoFest, a summer music festival full of food, fun, and festivities.
  • In 1977, City Hall designated Navy Pier as a Chicago Landmark.
  • The Ferris wheel is 150-feet high, runs year round (weather permitting) and has a maximum capacity of 300 passengers!
  • In the winter, many Chicago residents love coming down to the Pier for perch fishing.
  • On May 19, Navy Pier’s Pier Park Operations Manager, Clinton Shepard, set the current Guinness World Record for the longest marathon on a fairground or theme park attraction. Shepard rode the Ferris wheel for 48 hours, 8 minutes, and 25 seconds with no sleep.

Those are just a few of the many interesting facts about the almost 100-year-old Pier. You can read about the whole history of Navy Pier up until now, and we’re excited to add many more years and events to the list!

Did we miss something? What fun fact would you add to the list?


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