You Are Now Free to Fly Over Navy Pier

The days of old people being bodychecked into traffic by yoga moms with double-wide strollers are in the past. At least on North Lake Shore Drive. The Navy Pier Flyover is officially open for all of your walking, jogging, running, biking, and general sweating needs.

The Navy Pier Flyover in May, 2020. (Via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly.)
The Navy Pier Flyover in May, 2020. (Via the Office of Alderman Brendan Reilly.)

Until now, getting from Ohio Street Beach to DuSable Harbor involved navigating a dark, confusing, urine-soaked concrete path alongside the federal highway that ties Chicago’s north and south extremities like a trussed quail in the deli case at Mariano’s. Now, you can bypass that potential crime scene by using the Navy Pier Flyover, which is an independent bridge-and-ramp structure which runs alongside Lake Shore Drive, and plows through two of the Lake Shore Drive bridgehouses like the Kool-Aid man at a bricklayer’s convention.

The Navy Pier Flyover has been under construction since 2014, those halcyon days when we were assured that international terrorists would be compelled to release their hostages if people in America Tweeted the right hashtags often enough. Salad days, indeed.

The old pathway could be as narrow as a Lincoln Park valet parking space. The new pathway is up to 21 ½ feet wide in places, so feel free to ask for it “extra wet” at Al’s Beef. There’s plenty of room for everyone.

Now that it’s complete, the $64,000,000 project looks a bit like one of the giant, extinct people-eaters on exhibit in the main hall of the Field Museum. Except in the middle. Where the flyover actually spans the river, the color and style take a dramatic shift to match the historic bridge. Nice touch.

Location: 401 North Lake Shore Drive, 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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