Navy Pier, the Chicago attraction that's loved by sightseers and scoffed at by locals, is about to become way less lame. This year, to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the lakeside tourist trap is undergoing a rebranding initiative dubbed the Centennial Vision.
For starters, open alcohol is now sanctioned on the pier (as long as it was purchased on the park grounds). In mid-March, Tiny Lounge also announced it would be the pier's first craft cocktail bar. On top of that, the indoor walkway of the South Arcade is set to become a "Chicago-themed food experience" that should be a big step up from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Navy Pier's current flagship restaurant. A boutique hotel is also coming to the east end of the pier, and it may just offer one of the best views of the sunrise in the city.
The kicker: A new 196-foot Ferris wheel—about 50 feet taller than its predecessor—is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day. While this may not seem like a big deal to native Chicagoans, it'll be a pretty glorious homage to the original 264-foot Ferris wheel that was the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.
So, Chicago, say goodbye to the tacky Navy Pier of the past, and say hello to what could be your new favorite downtown hang.
Photographs courtesy Navy Pier