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Navy Pier Through The Years

Navy Pier, Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination, has gone through an exciting evolution over the last 100+ years! As 2019 comes to a close, we thought this would be a great time to revisit the amazing developments Navy Pier has experienced, starting with its 1916 opening as part of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago. Then and now, Navy Pier has been a Chicago icon and popular destination throughout its history.


Opened to the public in 1916 and originally named “Municipal Pier,” Navy Pier was built under nationally-known architect Charles Sumner Frost based on Daniel Burnham’s “Master Plan of Chicago.” The purpose of the Pier was to be a shipping and recreation facility.

The Pier experienced a name change this year! Municipal Pier was officially renamed Navy Pier in 1927 as a tribute to the Navy personnel who were housed at the Pier during World War I.

Fifty years later, Navy Pier was designated a Chicago landmark, positioning the Pier as an unforgettable destination in the city and across the globe.

Navy Pier underwent a redevelopment in 1994 with improvements made to nearly every aspect of the Pier!

Nearly twenty five years ago, Navy Pier reopened in July 1995 to the public. Since then, Navy Pier has offered a diverse and eclectic experience to guests and remains one of the most unique settings in the world.

In July 2011, Navy Pier, Inc., the newly formed not-for-profit entity entrusted with the operation and redevelopment of Navy Pier, put forth The Centennial Vision, a framework for reimagining Navy Pier. The vision’s purpose was to expand the Pier’s audience and enrich the experience of guests.

The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. The Centennial Vision became a reality this year, too, with vibrant architectural, cultural, environmental and recreational landscape developments and improvements.

In 2019, the Pier continues to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts, including a 220-room Hilton hotel, now-open Offshore Rooftop & Bar, and more. In addition, the Pier offers free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe.


We can’t wait to see what the next 100 years holds for Navy Pier!



Do you have any unforgettable memories at Navy Pier through the years? Share them on social media and use #NavyPier for a chance to be featured on our channels:  InstagramFacebook and Twitter

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