Visitors arriving at the Pier will be drawn to a grand entry with a dramatic plaza, a stylized recreation of USS Wolverine, a reflecting pool with an infinity edge, a pristinely restored WWII U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat fighter plane, and the latest interactive media and museum-quality displays.
Thousands of children, youth, and families will visit the Memorial each and every year. Our goal is to provide them with an immersive, audience-centric experience that will utilize the newest media technology to move and inspire the next generation of Chicagoland and our region's naval leaders. We aim to provide context to the American innovation and ingenuity it took to leverage Navy Pier in defense of our nation, and provide a window into a long-forgotten past when the Windy City bravely responsed to a world at war.
The Main Attraction
Visually arresting from miles away, the USS Wolverine will captivate millions, including veterans, families, and inspire the next generation of Chicagoland’s naval leaders.
With both internal and external spaces, the USS Wolverine will include a formal Discovery Center with a state-of-the-art theater and museum exhibition space that can be converted for special events and ceremonies. Top-side of the US Wolverine will be a “flight deck” that will offer magnificent vistas of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier's Ferris wheel, and downtown Chicago.
History Here & Now
Restoration of FM-2
Wildcat and exhibit
By offering a unique glimpse into the historic restoration and display of an actual World War II Navy fighter tah was used as a training aircraft and was recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan, visitors will be treated to a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with the rich military history right in their backyard.
With the restoration and display of an FM-2 Wildcat, we can provide a deeper understanding of the historical importance of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier qualification training program at Navy Pier, which greatly impacted the U.S. victory in the Pacific during World War II. Visitors can witness first-hand what the training process entailed, promoting interest and appreciation for service in the military, especially naval aviation.
A Place To Engage
indoor special events
and ceremonial space
To promote ongoing military history education that will engage a wide variety of audiences, the Chicago Navy Memorial at Navy Pier will offer a state-of-the-art multimedia venue for special events and ceremonies.
The Discovery Center will feature HD digital displays with surround sound, multi-format video players, and inputs for PowerPoint presentations.
This unique and engaging space will be a top destination for movie and documentary screenings, press events, and guest speaker presentations from around the region.
The Navy Memorial at Navy Pier will display Chicagoland’s storied past and bring it to life with high-quality, custom-built exhibition cases filled with important artifacts from history that help tell the story.
Pacific Theater in the Discovery Center
In recognition of the many servicemen who traveled from the shores of Lake Michigan to the waters of the South Pacific, visitors will be transported to another world as they enter the Pacific Theater; a state-of-the-art space that will offer a video introduction to the Chicago Navy Memorial at Navy Pier.
With the latest in audiovisual capabilities, this exclusive venue will offer an intimate setting for movie and documentary screenings and presentations.
An elegant Memorial entry portal will recreate the original public entrance to Navy Pier for the 6th War Loan Exhibition at Navy Pier, November 20 through December 16, 1944.
The gateway will serve as a portal to a time more than 75 years ago, that will inspire the spirit of each visitor as they pass into the past, providing a glimpse into Navy Pier’s noble history.
Walkway and plaza
A stunning walkway and plaza of black granite chips and tinted cement will run the full length of the memorial structure, providing an opportunity for veterans and family members to reminisce about their time in service.
Visitors can peacefully contemplate the sacrifice of Chicago’s heroes along intricately etched maps that adorn the walkway path, elegantly punctuated by legacy trees, flag poles, decorative planters, and thoughtfully-located benches.
Etched glass panels
Laminated glass panels will immortalize prominent Chicago sea service veterans, many of whose wartime heroism was only matched by their boldness as business, civic, and public service leaders.
Additionally, the panels will also serve as an effective sound barrier, separating the Memorial plaza from the busy bus loading area, setting the plaza apart as a space for peaceful reflection.
Flight deck super structure with replica fighter aircraft
Running the entire length and width of the USS Wolverine structure, the flight deck will be an exemplary outdoor setting that is sure to take its rightful place among Chicago’s most iconic architectural landmarks. Facsimiles of the USS Wolverine’s aircraft will adorn the flight deck.
In the shadow of Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline the memorial’s flight deck will draw in visitors from around the globe, and provide a wonderful outdoor venue for events and ceremonies.
Chicago wall of stories
Family, friends, and colleagues of service veterans will have an opportunity to share and preserve the memory of a loved one’s service by sponsoring unique biographic commemorative plaques displayed at key locations throughout the memorial.
Visitors will be able to reflect on individual stories from real-life heroes, bringing the sacrifice and service to a personal level and making history come to life by preserving the memory of every name on the wall.