The 5 Most Interesting Sites Along The Bike The Drive Route
Bike the Drive has become an unofficial gateway to summer in Chicago in its 15-year history. Every Memorial Day weekend, the nearly 16-mile length of Lake Shore Drive is closed to motor vehicles and taken over by more than 20,000 bicyclists ranging from families to Tour de France wannabes.
With stunning views of Lake Michigan on one side, and downtown and lakefront neighborhoods on the other, Bike the Drive offers some of the best sites to see on two wheels in the country. Bisnow picked a few favorites.
Lake Shore Drive 'S' Curve
The Lake Shore Drive bridge spanning the Chicago River in Streeterville used to connect two 90-degree turns that forced motorists to come to near-complete stops in order to cross the bridge.
In 1986, the Chicago Department of Transportation completed a $90M straightening project that moved the drive closer to the lakefront and gave it an S-shaped curvature from Randolph to Monroe streets. This opened up the land the old route intersected for development, an area now known as New Eastside and transformed by Magellan Development's Lakeshore East master plan.
Originally christened "Municipal Pier" when it opened in 1916, Navy Pier has served as a jail, a college, a training center for the U.S. Navy, a freight dock and an exhibition space over the course of its existence.
In 1995, the city worked with the Urban Land Institute to redevelop Navy Pier into the mixed-use tourist destination it is today, and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority was formed to redevelop it and McCormick Place. With over 9 million visitors annually, Navy Pier is Chicago's top tourist attraction.
Museum of Science and Industry
The property created as The Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was restored and became the Museum of Science and Industry in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition.
The museum is home to a full-scale model coal mine, a German submarine captured during World War II, a 3,500 SF model railroad and the command module of Apollo 8, the second U.S. manned spaceflight in the Apollo space program. The museum serves as the southern end and rest area of Bike the Drive.
The largest convention center in North America at nearly 2.7M SF, McCormick Place opened in 1960 with an exposition hall and the 5,000-seat Arie Crown Theater. The original hall, which was believed to be fireproof due to its steel and concrete construction, burned down in 1967; the building contained highly flammable exhibits at the time of the fire, there were no sprinklers on the main floor where the fire started and several hydrants that could have been used to douse the blaze were shut off. The replacement building, now known as Lakeside Center, opened in 1971 and was named to Preservation Chicago's 2016 list of endangered landmarks.
The city expanded McCormick Place in 1997, 2007 and last year with the opening of the Marriott Marquis and Wintrust Arena.
Edgewater Beach Apartments
Visible from the northernmost point on the ride, the Edgewater Beach Apartments originally opened in 1928 as part of the Edgewater Beach Hotel complex. It is the only part of the complex to survive.
The building is notable for its sunset pink color, which complemented the hotel's sunrise yellow hue. The Edgewater Beach Apartments was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and is a housing cooperative. Amenities include an indoor pool, private retail for residents, a back deck and an expansive garden.