Polk Bros Park is considered the gateway to the historic Navy Pier. It is named after the Polk Family, who donated the $20 million needed to reimagine the 13-acre park in 2014. Located at the Pier’s west entrance, the new park has completely reimagined the surrounding area. The entry features a 12,500-square-foot fountain and plaza. The park is also home to performance lawns that host cultural events throughout the year. With the new space, the park has given the Pier a new mission to enhance its arts, community and cultural programming.
Polk Bros Park Features
The park offers a beautiful welcome to the Navy Pier. At the entrance, the Polk Bros Fountain and Plaza features more than 150 programmable jets. In the summer, the fountain mimics nature, with natural movements like waves, fish and birds. For now, the park’s main appeal is in the summer, but organizers hope to transform the plaza into a skating rink in colder months to make the park a year-round attraction.
Polk Bros Park also features two massive performance lawns. These spaces host live arts and cultural events. In the background, showgoers can enjoy views of the lake and the Chicago skyline.
The Polk family forever altered retail in America and the lives of Chicago’s working class. To honor them, a large orange fabricated aluminum “P” stands in the park at nearly 12 feet tall.
Beyond, the Navy Pier spans 50 acres of parks, gardens, restaurants, family fun and shops. The 3,300-foot-long Pier is one of Chicago’s biggest tourist attractions. Catch a sightseeing tour or entertainment cruise, or take a ride on one of the park’s carousels or coasters like the Pepsi Wave Swinger. The Funhouse Maze is a self-paced sensory experience spanning 4,000 square feet of tunnels.
The Pier is also home to Crystal Gardens, a one-acre botanical garden inside a six-story glass atrium. There is also an IMAX theater and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, for entertainment.
Polk Bros Park Events
At the western end of the Navy Pier, the Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns are set among beautiful views, offering an array of free programs throughout the summer. Wiggleworms is an event for young children offered on Fridays in the summer. There are also performances like dance, spoken word and concerts offered in warmer months. Events focus on Chicago’s many cultures, like Noche Caribeña—an evening for dance, cultural expression and dance inspired by the city’s Puerto Rican community. The stages also host Shakespeare in the Park, free movies, sunset yoga and live jazz throughout the summer.