Chicago Underground: The “Pedway” System

Over the years, I found out that many locals know about the Chicago Loop's underground Pedway system. I never heard about or used it until about 10 years ago (because I'm slightly claustrophobic), but it's been there since 1951. In short, the Pedway is an underground network of walkways that connect many of the downtown buildings. It allows you to traverse the downtown area without being outside in the elements (rain, wind, snow, heat, etc.)

But it is SOOO much more than just a network of pedestrian walkways. To me, it's like a whole little underground city there! Snack shops, restaurants, jewelry repair shops, florists, dry cleaners, shoe repair shops, plus access to City Hall and Illinois government facilities, Macy's/Marshall Fields, CTA rail lines, and Metra stations.

The Pedway currently includes about 40 blocks and more than 55 points of downtown real estate – as far north and east as the Swisshotel on East Wacker Drive; west to the Thompson Center at Randolph and Clark streets; and south to the Metra station at Michigan and Van Buren. As the system has been expanded, renovated, and remodeled from time to time, there are sections of it that are NOT connected. (I'm hoping “yet” will become a keyword in this scenario.) On that note, it is difficult to find “the most current map” of the Pedway system. The most recent one I could find was from the City of Chicago's website at

Exploring Chicago's Pedway is not for the faint of heart (or the claustrophobic). Signage is very poor. It seems to be designed for those who already know where they are in the Pedway and where they want to get to. In my opinion, that knowledge can only be obtained by going there a few times with a knowledgeable guide or using it on a regular basis. Still.... The Pedway IS a great way to get in and around the Loop in inclement weather. But I would not recommend it for tourists - local or otherwise - without a guide.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual and not those of StreetAdvisor.
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