The Biggest Tourist Attraction in Chicago (and Illinois) Will Close

Navy Pier, which has delighted millions of tourists and local for a quarter of a century will soon be shut down. Even to joggers. The non-profit that runs Navy Pier has announced all of its operations will shut down temporarily after Labor Day.

Navy Pier (Courtesy of YoChicago!)

Yes, it’s virus-related. But no, it’s not about the refusal of some people to social distance on the lakefront or the questionable mask etiquette visible along the mile-long promenade. In a statement, Navy Pier wrote, “The temporary closure will allow the Pier and its partners to reduce its operational expenses and support efforts to limit COVID-19 cases as we move into the fall and winter seasons.”

In short, there’s no money. Largely because foot traffic is down 80% from last year. And hardly anyone is going there because there’s no reason to go there. Navy Pier expects a $20 million budget shortfall this year.

“[T]he Centennial Wheel and other Pier Park attractions—a primary source of revenue—have not been able to open and operate. On-site cultural anchors, Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater, have also remained closed. Additionally, the Pier has extended rent relief to all of its on-site tenant partners. All private events, consumer shows, trade shows and banquets have been canceled in the Pier’s East End event facilities due to capacity restrictions. Furthermore, COVID-19 travel restrictions have resulted in significant decreases in tourism, another contributing factor to decreased attendance and revenues.”

From when it opened in 1995 until the pandemic came to Chicago, Navy Pier closed a total of four days.

The Pier says it plans to reopen in the Spring. But a lot of companies and organizations have said that this year, while silently disappearing after too many months of dormancy. Hopefully the Pier’s reserve fund can outlast the pandemic.

Even in the dead of winter, we had Navy Pier fireworks to enjoy.

Location: 600 East Grand Avenue, Streeterville

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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