Bears are coming to the Chicago Pedway

Bears are coming to the Chicago Pedway
Photo: Jeff Hofmann

The Bears are coming to Chicago’s Pedway
(no not, those Bears)

In celebration of the winter solstice, coming December 20, the Chicago Loop Alliance has lined-up an art installation that will feature “Massimals in the Loop.”

The massimals, in this case, are harmless hibernating bears--that are 1:1 design objects that serve as prototypes to examine how physical form can engage the public realm. 

The colorful massimals are sure to add a bright light to a dark time of the year and bring a smile to tired shoppers, commuters and workers who use Chicago’s somewhat confusing underground network of tunnels, known as the Pedway.

Photo: Jeff Hofmann

Photo: Jeff Hofmann

Whether this installation comes close to attracting the crowds that the 1999 Cows on Parade--Chicago’s most successful public art installation ever--drew, doesn’t really matter.

Chicago’s Underground City

What these colorful creatures should do is shed a little light on Chicago’s Pedway and make more people aware of its existence.

“The spirit of ‘Massimals in the Loop’ is to take this underutilized or under appreciated public space and invite people into it to experience it in a new and exciting way,” said Chicago Loop Alliance Director of Planning Kalindi Parikh. “We see the Pedway as an asset to the Loop, and we want it to receive attention and appreciation, so people see it as more than an underground route from A to B.”

Why more people don’t use the Pedway is somewhat of a mystery. The network of underground tunnels, that began construction in 1951, currently runs beneath 40 blocks of the Loop.

It is a great escape from winter’s cold, ice and snow. But strangely while above ground, crowds are fighting biting winds and dodging falling ice, below ground  things are quiet and peaceful.

People can be seen walking coatless--perhaps sipping a cup of hot chocolate--as they head to the Metra, City Hall, the CTA and other locations.

Photo: GLINT studios

Photo: GLINT studios

Now is the time

If you’ve never been to Chicago’s underground now is the time. Come check out this amazing space and its colorful winter inhabitants.

“Massimals in the Loop” by artist Jason Scroggin/Scroggin Studio, curated by Space p11, will be on view from December 20 though the end of winter under Daley Center, Macy’s, and other locations along the main stem of the Pedway.

How to navigate the Pedway

Photo: Chicago Tribune

Photo: Chicago Tribune

The Pedway can be a bit intimidating to first timers but it shouldn’t be. There are many entrances and exits. It’s well lit with bars, restaurants, art and stores. One easy way to enter is from the lower floor of Macy’s State Street Store.

Other entrance and exits include:

  • One North Dearborn Street
  • One North State Street.
  • 2 North Riverside Plaza
  • One Prudential Plaza (130 East Randolph Street)
  • Two First National Plaza
  • Two Prudential Plaza (180 North Stetson Avenue)
  • Three First National Plaza (70 West Madison Street)
  • 25 East Washington Street

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Filed under: Public Art.

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