I have been working at Chicago Public Radio for the past month, which means daily walks through Navy Pier where WBEZ is housed. Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s main tourist destinations and one of the most god-awful places in my known universe. Part fast-food court – part touristy knick-knack market – part holiday/patriotism themed fun house. All of these components come together to create perhaps the loudest example of contemporary American “Nowheresville.” Ever been to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco? Or Quincy Market in Boston? They are all the same place! In fact, if you peruse the flickr tags for Quincy market, Navy Pier and Fisherman’s Wharf – you can get a sense of this for yourself. The popularity of these places really confounds me: food courts, cheap gee-gaws and obesity should not be magnets for tourists.. unless that is the point. But I have a real hard time accepting that Americans can call visiting a trussed up strip mall - tourism.
I hope I don’t sound like an asshole, it may be the relentless 'Here Comes Santa' music but I really really hate this place. I recorded this video walk-thru to back up my protestations.. (link)