Friends Speaks Out Against Sky Ride

First proposed several years ago one of 82 ideas developed to boost tourism, the ride imagines 250 gondola cars moving 3,000 people an hour from Navy Pier to Lake Street and back again. Large pylons would be placed into the riverwalk and two stations would take up space at Columbus Drive and at the Riverbank where the giant deer sculpure was last summer.

After reviewing the project with our Planning Committee Friends' position is as follows:

  • We appreciate the creative and tireless efforts of the Skyline’s advocates in promoting Chicago as a world-class city and tourist destination. They are industrious, creative, enthusiastic, and should be commended.
  • Under the City of Chicago’s leadership we have invested well over $100 million to realize the Chicago Riverwalk and it has been met with great success. Visitors and residents flock to it, spending time and money along this wonderful promenade.  For the first time, visitors can enjoy this unique vantage point and understand that the Chicago River is a living, natural resource alive with people and wildlife, and that it still faces some troubling difficulties with sewage and garbage pollution which need to be seen up close to appreciate.
  • We have heard so much from people about garage and flooding and we never used to. It is quite amazing.
  • We believe this growing connection to the river is vital and that the installation of large pods hanging over the Chicago Riverwalk would divert the crowds and hurt the river-edge and river-based businesses that have signed leases with the City. These businesses are helping pay off the Riverwalk TIFIA loan and they depend upon the presence of foot traffic for success.
  • Chicago is long renowned for our architecture and the Chicago River downtown provides wonderful access to these iconic views. Seventeen-story pylons carrying as many as 250 pods at a time between Lake Street and Navy Pier (based on their estimated 3,000 people per hour in 12-person pods) would destroy the views from the river to the buildings, from the buildings to the river, and from the Chicago Riverwalk.
  • As a world-class city known for our architectural heritage and we believe that gondolas, monorails, or other such projects would be out of place in downtown Chicago and could alter our global reputation as a sophisticated urban locale.
  • In addition to physically removing people from the riverfront, we have serious concerns about the infrastructure that would be required for this project, which would most certainly impede the already successful Riverwalk. Large pylons (12 at least) with bases between 10 to 18 feet wide would need to be erected to support the pods and machinery. These pylons would severely restrict the public path on the Riverwalk and reduce the number of visitors it could accommodate.
  • In addition to these pylons, even larger turning stations and boarding stations will be required, both of which would cut a sizeable portion off of existing public riverfront space including a massive station that would dominate the confluence.

"Someone told me that they saw the presentation to the City Club in 2016 on the full project of “big ideas” from whence the sky ride came. He called one of them a “firefly garden” which sounds much more romantic and sustainable to me," said Frisbie.