Notes From Chicago’s Underground
25 September 2018
Chicagoans take pride in their seasonal resilience — that unique ability to adapt to inclement and temperamental weather. With winter on the horizon, you may be preparing to battle the elements in a puffy jacket and steel toe boots…Or, if you are looking for a delightful Plan B, there just happens to be an alternative.
Beneath the busy streets and sidewalks of Chicago’s business district, there is a network of tunnels and corridors that spans roughly five miles. Known as the Chicago Pedway, the underground system not only connects transit platforms to one another but also leads to some of the city’s most popular buildings.
Construction of the Pedway began in 1951, connecting both the Red and Blue Line Washington stations, and expansion continues to this day. Interestingly, each corridor is operated and maintained by the building that sits above it, allowing for customization. The stretch that runs between Wabash and State Street, for example, was adorned with several stained glass window displays added by Macy’s Department Store in 2013.
According to the City of Chicago website, tens of thousands of pedestrians use the system each day, many of them using the path connecting the Thompson Center and Millennium Station, two main transportation hubs. And while this level of foot traffic is impressive, it is expected to increase after a massive redesign funded by the Environmental Law and Policy Center.
So when you’re feeling like an urban explorer or just don’t want to face the winds off of Lake Michigan, explore the Pedway. The entrance closest to 1000M is located at the Chicago Cultural Center.