The city of Chicago could soon boast a new form of transportation: sleek, futuristic aerial cable cars that would link some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. The Skyline, designed by Marks Barfield Architects and Davis Brody Bond, would connect Chicago’s Navy Pier with the downtown transportation nodes of the Loop, allowing visitors to see the sights while flying high in transparent pods.
If approved, the Skyline will serve as a practical form of transport, while also giving riders a sweeping view of the lake and the city’s famous historical architecture from 17 stories above the ground. The developers also hope the cable car will become an iconic landmark within the city, much like Marks Barfield’s massive London Eye ferris wheel. The attraction is planned to run year-round, operating into the evening hours to allow riders a view of the city at night.
The pods are designed to accommodate 3,000 people an hour, and would run half-hour-long tours through the city along the southern bank of the Chicago River, with multiple stops along the way. The cost to ride would be steeper than public transit at $20 a ticket, but that price is comparable to the cost of admission to other local attractions, such as the observation decks at the Willis Tower and John Hancock Center.
The idea first took shape in 2010 when Steven Davis, a partner at Davis Brody Bond, realized that a lack of direct transportation between downtown Chicago and Navy Pier was causing the attraction to lose out on a huge number of potential visitors. The project would reportedly cost $250 million to build, which backers hope to obtain through private funding rather than relying on state or city funds. Because the land on which the Skyline would be built is owned by the city, it would be a public-private partnership – not a bad deal for the city considering the aerial transportation system is estimated to attract 1.4 million tourists a year.