The Chicago Pedway Is an Oasis During Cold-Weather Commutes

Pedway commuters pass by an indoor swimming pool in the basement of the 55 E. Randolph building. Photo: John Greenfield
Pedway commuters pass by an indoor swimming pool in the basement of the 55 E. Randolph building. Photo: John Greenfield

On days like this, when the mercury dropped into the negative upper-single digits, you can really appreciate the Chicago Pedway system, a facet of our city’s transportation network that is often overlooked.

A gallery of stained-glass windows below the Macy's building (formerly Marshall Field's) on State Street. Photo: John Greenfield
A gallery of stained-glass windows below the Macy’s building (formerly Marshall Field’s) on State Street. Photo: John Greenfield

This network of subterranean tunnels, ground-level concourses, and overhead skyways connects over 40 city blocks and 50 buildings in the central business district, covering about five miles. It allows people to traverse the Loop in relative comfort during frigid, snowy, rainy, or blazing weather. It also provides a respite from the danger and sensory assault of motorized traffic.

The Pedway connects with the Lake Street Red Line station. Photo: John Greenfield
The Pedway connects with the Lake Street Red Line station. Photo: John Greenfield

Tens of thousands of residents and visitors use the Pedway on a daily basis. It’s especially useful for rail commuters since it connects Metra and CTA rail stations to many public, office, and retail buildings. The system itself also houses plenty of interesting stores and restaurants, ranging from old-school shoe repair shops to a gourmet tamale stand.

The Pedway passes through the Block 37 mall. Photo: John Greenfield
The Pedway passes through the Block 37 mall. Photo: John Greenfield

Not surprisingly, the Pedway was especially busy during this evening’s frosty rush hour. What are your favorite aspects of the system? Share your experiences and tips in the comment section.

The passageway connecting the Daley Center to City Hal. Photo: John Greenfield
The passageway connecting the Daley Center to City Hall. Photo: John Greenfield

View a map of the Pedway here.

Read my in-depth Pedway travelogue “Notes From the Underground.”

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