Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=199139
Story Retrieval Date: 5/22/2013 3:49:59 PM CST
The Chicago Pedway is a system of walkways connection businesses, hotels and transit lines in downtown Chicago.
Land of the lost: Chicago’s Pedway keeps some commuters walking in circles
The City of Chicago has a Pedway map from 2008 showing the location of the walkways and the landmarks near them.
Have you ever been stuck in traffic and wished you could just go underground and dig a tunnel to your final destination?
Well, in Chicago, those tunnels exist. Underneath the city’s bustling streets lies the Chicago Pedway system, a collection of walkways that connects businesses, hotels and public transit lines. And it can be very useful for commuting – if you can figure out which way you are going.
“I don’t know what to do with it,” said one Loop office worker who said he has used the Pedway only a handful of times. “I don’t use it very much so it’s a little confusing.”
The Pedway covers about 40 blocks of downtown Chicago but many of the connecting walkways are scattered and walkers are unable to use the entire system without coming back to street level. Some entrances to the Pedway are not labeled; those that are offer little information about your exact location in the Pedway.
Mathew Brown has been a custodial supervisor in the Randolph Street wing of the Pedway for 28 years and says people are constantly asking him for directions.
“People ask me, ‘Where’s the Red Line, Green Line, how do I get upstairs?’” Brown said. “People are walking around here and don’t know where they are going, so I help them out.”
There is a map on the City of Chicago website that shows the Pedway routes through downtown, last updated in 2008. And once you are in the Pedway, there are very few maps, and it is difficult to know what direction you are going. On the map it even says that entrances and exits are subject to change, which would be problematic for those unfamiliar with the system.
But some Chicago commuters find the Pedway to be an easy and comfortable method of getting around.
“For four years I’ve used it to get from Macy’s and the health club to LaSalle Street,” said Pedway user John Maher. “It’s warm and dry.”
Maher said he found navigating the Pedway to be fairly simple, but acknowledged that he had some trouble getting used to it.
“It wasn’t marked on the outside, so that was confusing,” Maher said. “But I knew it was here, tried it, and it worked.”
Other cities have an underground walkway system for commuters. Albany, Atlanta, Dallas, Minneapolis, Toronto and Montreal all have some form of underground system for walking and shopping.
Chicago’s Pedway system was first built in 1951 and has expanded over the years. Most of the Pedway is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except for sections containing restaurants and other businesses that operate on a different schedule.