Navy Pier

A symbol of service and civic pride, ever-evolving

Chicago’s Navy Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire Midwest. Originally completed as part of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan for Chicago, Navy Pier is an iconic city landmark, inspiring discovery and wonder.

Throughout its years, Navy Pier has shifted purposes time and time again, adapting to the needs of the nation. Since its completion in 1916, the Pier has been instrumental in both World Wars, served as an exhibition space, host of a summer music festival, and home to one of the most famous Ferris Wheels in history, finally becoming the nationally known destination it is today. Since its rebirth in 1995, more than 180 million visitors have come to enjoy the Pier's 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences.

Walk through the Pier’s illustrious past and learn more about this incredible cornerstone in Chicago’s cityscape.


During WWI, the Pier shifted from a civic and social center to a military recruitment base. The U.S. Navy introduced a training program that prepared a tremendous number of Sailors, significantly increasing the size of the Navy and helping to ensure their success.

World War II

As WWII began in full force, the Pier once again shifted into a military training center. This time however, the Navy modified two ships to be used as aircraft carriers, qualifying 18,000  pilots within a mere three years. Navy Pier was the home port for these ships. 


Since the end of the war, Navy Pier has been home to a number of events and attractions and currently serves as one of the top destinations in the U.S. Midwest, drawing over nine million visitors every year.

Help us complete our mission!

Please consider honoring the people and contributions our area has made to the U.S. Navy by making a donation today.