On those cold, blustery and rainy days, walking through the loop can be horrifying. Pelted with rain, blown by winds that go between the buildings as if they were mountains. Oh, if only we could escape the weather of “The Windy City”! Well, guess what ? You can! At least through part of the downtown area. In the “downtown “area we have what is known as “The Pedway” an underground system that connects buildings in the “downtown” via ground level walkways, “skybridges” and underground passages. Most of the system is underground and unknown to residents and visitors. These are climate controlled passages that make for easy navigating from place to place during the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer..
By using the “pedway” we avoid the elements and also the crowds and street lights in the world above. One can also explore some of the different styles of architecture that our city has to offer, from a unique perspective! From the ground up! There is even a food court (falafel, salads and BBQ) at 77 W. Wacker, where the “pedway” is partnered with “sky bridges”.
From City Hall, there are three “pedways’ ( although not connected) heading East, North and South. All three take you to others. On the Lower Level of The Chase Tower, there is a large cafeteria and below, an even lower level that hosts NPR’s “Wait, Don’t Tell Me!”. There was another connection below, but it has been abandoned since the First National Bank left. There are signs and symbols below ground (and on the way down) so you can find your way.
The “pedway” itself is open from 7 am- 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and closed on the week-ends. As you walk from the “loop” to Michigan Avenue, you will find shops, eateries, history an dyes, exits that will lead you into buildings or to hop on a train. The Government buildings are accessible from 6 a.m.-6 p.m., again, Monday-Friday and of course closed on holidays.
The lower portion of the city has been in place for many years and while many residents and visitors are not aware of this treasure, there are many locals who use it to get places faster, safer and dryer or cooler (depending on the time of year).
Chicago offers something special for those who want to know more. Chicago Detours offers special walking tours with people who know the history of this treasure. Get more info at www.chicagodetours.com or by calling 312-350-1131 If you get lucky, you will get a tour leader who can also fill you in on the “tunnels” an even lower world beneath Chicago, where trains and others delivered merchandise to businesses.