This Friday, July 15, a Chicago landmark turns 100 years old. Happy birthday, Navy Pier! So rally the troops, make your way to the Pier, and enjoy the myriad free, fun events and activities as part of the Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration.
Chicagoans and visitors alike are invited to attend a family-oriented party, featuring free slices of a giant, specially designed Eli’s Cheesecake birthday cake; games and activities for children; and other surprises. The festivities are free and begin at 10 a.m.
Also as part of the Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration, Navy Pier will give back to the city by presenting 100 area nonprofits with a unique Navy Pier experience. Those nonprofits will receive up to 100 free rides on the new Centennial Wheel to share with their constituents and the communities they serve.
The birthday bash continues that evening, when guests raise a glass for a special toast to Navy Pier’s second century at approximately 9:25 p.m., and then enjoy a special 100th anniversary fireworks show at 9:30 p.m., presented by Miller Lite.
Also on July 15, one of Navy Pier’s partners offers its own special event to celebrate the anniversary of the Midwest’s most-visited leisure destination. The Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater will perform the delightful romantic comedy, “Twelfth Night,” for free, on an outdoor stage on Navy Pier’s East End Plaza at 6:30 p.m. This production features some of Shakespeare’s quintessential poetry and comedic characters, all in a 75-minute theatrical romp that audiences of all ages will enjoy.
For more details on the Fifth Third Bank Centennial Celebration and upcoming events at Navy Pier, please visit www.navypier.com or the Navy Pier Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. #100YearsOfPier
Did you know? Navy Pier Fun Facts
- 1916: Navy Pier (then named “Municipal Pier No. 2”), conceived by famed architect and city planner Daniel Burnham, was the only one of five piers Burnham envisioned for the Chicago lakefront that was actually built.
- World War I: The Pier housed several regiments of soldiers, Red Cross and Home Defense units, as well as barracks for recruits, and even a jail for deserters. The Pier was later renamed “Navy Pier” to honor Naval veterans of WWI.
- 1920s: A site for both shipping commerce and entertainment, it even hosted dance marathons.
- World War II: Navy pilot training orientation took place here. As many as 200 WWII Planes may still rest at the bottom of Lake Michigan as a result of training accidents.
- 1960s: Navy Pier was the original University of Illinois-Chicago campus and was known as “Harvard on the Rocks.”
- 1970s: Navy Pier hosted the first “ChicagoFest,” which would later evolve into the world-renowned “Taste of Chicago” food festival.
- 1990s and beyond: Navy Pier becomes home to a myriad of attractions, activities and events, including the Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Pepsi Tall Ships Festivals, the first-ever freshwater competition of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago, the country’s newest Ferris wheel (named the “Centennial Wheel”), plus new arts and cultural programming.