Will Chicago Be the Next to Jump on the Sky Gondola?

Chicago's looking for a new tourist attraction, and the sky gondola has made the short list. Private investors have proposed to construct a sky gondola as a tourist attraction crossing over the Chicago River, but will the plan fly?
May 16, 2016, 5am PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Chicago's latest tourist attraction could offer a swinging good view of the Windy City. "The Skyline" gondola system, as proposed, would cross the Chicago River, offering a 30 minute ride to tourists hoping for a birds eye view of the city. Kriston Capps of CityLab points out that the $250 million proposal has some drawbacks. The first is the notorious winds that race through the skyscraper canyons of the city, offering a potentially bumpy ride. The second is the expected downtime the gondola might face during the city's wintry deep freeze. But, as Capps notes, if someone besides the city is on the hook for the money, maybe it's not such a bad deal.

Gondola proposals have been met with scrutiny and ridicule everywhere else that they’ve been proposed. It’s hard to find fault with Chicago’s Skyline proposal, though (except insofar as there might be loftier ways to spend $250 million on the city). If private financiers want to put the money forward—with the city on the hook only for the land on which the gondola posts would be erected—what’s not to love?

The sky gondola is one of several ideas under consideration to create a new iconic attraction for the city, luring more tourists with the goal of generating more revenue for the city. Other ideas, as reported by The Chicago Tribune include river barges offering outdoor opera performances, "inventive lighting" around city landmarks, and VIP train service from O'Hare Airport into the Loop.

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Published on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 in CityLab
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