Chicago Pedway Tour

Last week I played a little hooky and went downtown to go on one of the free Pedway Tours offered by Chicago Elevated.


Last week I played a little hooky and went downtown to go on one of the free Pedway Tours offered by Chicago Elevated.

Margaret shows us one of the only Pedway maps around.

I’ve been wanting to do more exploring in the Pedway but it’s a confusing place if you’re not really sure where you’re going.  Some parts are open all the time, some are closed and you can’t get there from here happens quite often!

Margaret Hicks just finished up a Pedway Project. She ‘lived’ in the Fairmont Hotel and not once in those 7 days did she go outside.  In that week she went to meetings, met friends, had a date night or two, swam, got a hair cut and all the other things we do in our daily lives – all without ever going outside.  You can read about the Pedway Project here.  If you live in the Chicago area or are visiting I highly recommend taking one of Margaret’s tours.  They’re not your typical, all history all the time, yawn inducing tours.

What I learned about the Pedway?  It’s confusing as all get out!  When you’re underground you can’t just look around for the lake to figure out which way is East. You can’t look for the John Hancock Building or Sears Tower (yes, I said Sears) to get your bearings.   There are no real maps or apps or anything overly helpful to get you from Point A to Point B.

The map in Millennium Station. Unless you know your buildings above – it can be confusing.

It’s also not all connected!  Yeah – how the heck can you get anywhere if it’s not connected? Well, Margaret found ways!  Through the pedway and parking garages it is possible to get from the Fairmont Hotel at 200 N. Columbus Drive all the way to Block 37, Millennium Park Grill and if you read here weekly blog you’ll see all the other places.

I learned that the Pedway is owned by the buildings it is beneath.  So each building/business owns and is responsible for it’s own little stretch of the pedway.  From the sounds of it they are working on trying to make it a more cohesive experience, more of Chicago’s 78th neighborhood as Margaret calls it.

I, of course, had my camera.  Again, I’ve wanted to wander the pedway for years to see what there would be to photograph.  I had been told that there wasn’t much, mostly just long hallways and that can get boring.  Ummmm….did you read my last post?  There is always always always something to shoot!!  The Pedway did not disappoint.

To start out these next 4 images are from the Fairmont Hotel. Before we even started into the Pedway itself we had access to this.

Lights in the entryway from parking.
Another perspective.
Still another perspective.
Lights on the ceiling in the lobby area.

Once down in the Pedway I found plenty!  Angles, perspectives, use your imagination and you can find little scenes with or without people.

An old time street light makes it moody
Windows to the outside!
Moments in a hallway
Millennium Station – so sleek and modern
Millennium Station
People add interest

Who knew Millennium Metra Station was so cool?

Then there is all the architecture!  You have to cut through some building lobbies to get from one part of the Pedway to the next.  I never would consider going in these places if I hadn’t been in the Pedway. No complaints here, but next time I’ll have to listen and/or pay more attention to where I am so I can identify the building!

Millennium Station
Coming out of Millennium Station
Anyone know which building this was?
So many cool options!
Prudential Building – I think? Aon? (I’m so bad at paying attention when I’m shooting!)
Prudential Building Lobby area

Since I was playing hooky a nice lunch to finish off the day was in order.  The Columbus Tap is in the Fairmont Hotel and the burger was delicious.  The lovely wine and background wasn’t so bad either.

The Columbus Tap

Even the Fairmont Lobby bathroom was photogenic! (It’s a long drive home you know!)

Fairmont Lobby Bathroom

And, last but not least, what do I always say?  Don’t forget to look up.  As I waited for my car the light and shadows from this chandelier really caught my (cough) eye!

Light fixture while waiting for my car

I can’t wait to go back!  There is much more to explore and of course many more photo opportunities!  I’m working on taking my Drink & Click group on a Pedway Pub Crawl in the coming months.

Thank you so much again to Chicago Elevated (Margaret) for her unending enthusiasm and knowledge, not only about the Pedway but the architecture and in Chicago.

Do you use the pedway? Did you know it existed? If you’re interested in the Pub Crawl please let me know – you don’t have to be a pro photographer or major hobbyist, we welcome all levels and all cameras (remember my last post – all phone shots!)

Also – as always, any of these images are available for purchase.  Click on the image to buy.


Author: Lauri Novak Photography

7 thoughts on “Chicago Pedway Tour”

  1. What a fun place to explore! I might go bonkers not going outside for a week, but I’d love to explore it for a day, it looks like the modern version of the Prohibition underground.


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