March 3, 2008

Charter One Pavilion

Chicagoans have a love-hate relationship with Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island. Many of us love what it has to offer, but we hate how it came to be and how it has to exist.

Northerly Island, a manmade peninsula that extends into Lake Michigan, was the home of former Meigs Field, a single-strip airport. Numerous VIPs, including celebrities and political figures, used this airport to easily maintain security without inconveniencing Chicago traffic.

However, in 2003, Mayor Richard M. Daley ordered private crews to destroy the runway in the middle of the night, bulldozing huge X-shaped gashes into the runway surface, rendering it useless. He had not given the required 30-day notice to the Federal Aviation Administration nor had he told any of the owners of sixteen planes that were still parked at the field. With no operating runway, the stranded aircraft had to depart using the 3,000-foot (914 m) taxiway.

It was no secret that Daley had wanted to close Meigs Field. He had announced plans to do so since back in 1994. However, after several talks between the City of Chicago, the state legislature, and several aviation-interest groups, an agreement was reached that the airport would remain open until 2026. However, the U.S. Senate did not pass the contract on a federal level.

Daley, of course, defended his shady actions, saying he did it out of 'safety concerns' after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. Most Chicagoans just saw the scandal as the Mayor finding a way to get what he wanted without dealing with legal challenges or negotiations. The courts eventually ruled that, despite his methods, the mayor was allowed to close the field, and the FAA fined the city for closing the airport without the proper notice.

chicago skylineNot long after Mayor Daley agreed to maintain the island as a nature preserve, he announced plans to build a concert venue, sparking even more controversy. However, because of his compromise with the Chicago Park District, any structure built there had to be temporary. The Charter One Pavilion, which can seat over 7,000 people, is assembled every spring and disassembled each fall.

The aim of the pavilion is to raise enough money to fully renovate the island and turn it into beautiful parkland. While the structure itself may not be pretty, the island offers fantastic views of the Chicago skyline. However, if Chicago is selected as the host for the 2016 Summer Olympics, those beautification plans will be put on hold. Several competitions (including cycling, volleyball, and track) will take place on Northerly Island, and rowing events will take place in Monroe Harbor (just north of the peninsula).

Photo credit (via Flickr): sdiver

Charter One Pavilion: 1300 S Linn White Dr; 312-540-2668
Public trans: Bus # 12, 146


10 comments to Charter One Pavilion

  1. CB
    March 3rd, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Even if you don’t agree with how Daley went about it, getting rid of Meigs and creating Northerly Island was a great move. Personally, I love the way he did it. This is the city that works, not the city that holds hearings and waits for bureaucrats to push some paper. We’d still be waiting for the Feds if he had waited. All so a bunch of snobby rich people don’t have to fly to another airport and drive into the city. And don’t give me that BS how not all of the people who have their planes there were rich, if you own a plane, any plane, you’re rich. And you can sit in traffic like the rest of us.

    Daley left us with a gorgeous nature preserve, and what has turned into, the premiere concert venue in the area. And the reason for it not being as temporary as originally intended- IT’S POPULARITY. God forbid someone listen to the majority of the people, instead of those that whine the most.

    I believe it was Daniel Burnham that said that the lakefront belongs to the people. Not to those that don’t want to sit in traffic.

  2. Matt B
    March 9th, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    While I do agree that the concert venue and nature parks are MUCH better for the city’s population than a private airport, I don’t think that Daley won himself any friends by taking the actions that he did, and there’s no telling how/when it will come back to bite him in the butt.

  3. Adler Planetarium
    April 7th, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    [...] world's first all-digital projection StarRider Theater. It stands on Northerly Island (next to Charter One Pavilion), which was initially meant to the first of several man-made islands along the [...]

  4. JenChicago
    July 13th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I just moved to Chicago and got a chance to check out the Charter One Pavilion last night for the Al Green concert. It was amazing!

    Thank you for all of this great information! I am going to add it to my videoblog @

  5. Let’s stay together, Chicago. — JenChicago
    July 13th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    [...] crew to rip up the runways of the then, Meigs Field, in the middle of the night. Soon after, the pavilion was [...]

  6. Matt B
    July 15th, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Jen, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself at the Pavilion and glad I could help!

  7. Jennifer
    July 19th, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I luv this place! For someone who has visited many concert arenas and pavilions and festivals, this place is by far one of the greatest places I have seen a concert. Going tonight to see my favorite Chicago based band Umphrey’s Mcgee! and STS9…..can’t wait to watch the sunset behind the Chicago Skyline and look out at the reflections in Lake Michigan! Thank you for creating this wonderful spot…

  8. Allen Paul
    July 24th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I just saw Boston and Styx at Charter One and I was quite disappointed. The sound is terrible, as the bass muffles all of the singer’s voice. You could only tell what he was singing if you knew the words in the first place. Boston was just a disappointment because the replacements for Brad Delp are weak, plus you couldn’t hear them anyway.

  9. b mitchell
    February 1st, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Dont let that one experience sour the venue allen. I play in a band and bad sound partly has to do with the venue but mostly how the band and sound techs mix the levels as well. Thats why sometimes a venue sounds like crap and awesome other times. Im willing to bet boston war being stubborn about how they wanted to sound despite the sound techs knowledge of the venue.

  10. bruce
    May 5th, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Daley is a douche bag. What an arrogant ass. Hate him. Go away Daley. Go far away

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