Chicago Architecture Blog for Curious People

New Chicago Pedway Map and Guide

December 14, 2012


With the help of some great designers, I decided to create a new Chicago Pedway map because guests on our interior architectural walking tour were often asking, ‘Where do we get a map?’ I had come to know the Pedway system “inside and out” when designing this tour that ventures into building interiors and uses the Pedway to stay indoors, so I decided to share my knowledge of the system via a new map.

A few maps were out there, including one designed by the city that hasn’t been updated since 2007,  showing just the location of the passages, which isn’t enough to help the user confidently enter unfamiliar buildings to access this system of passages that go both underground and above street level. A different approach to map-making would be necessary to elucidate the Pedway System. With the Chicago Detours map, we hope to offer a helpful guide with the user experience in mind.

Tours Chicago Pedway System Underground Tunnels

To our knowledge, this is the first map to explain logistics of navigating the Pedway system. The Chicago Detours Pedway map, in addition to showing the passages, marks all stairways and buildings that connect with the Pedway to explicitly show where people are permitted to enter a building. Check out the two-page map and you’ll find where to access the 40-plus-block-long network of passages, the disparate open hours for different sections, and tips on navigating the system.

Chicago Pedway Underground Symbol System

The big news is that we have printed thousands of these in full color. You can find a copy at the visitor’s centers (Cultural Center or Water Works), hotels, and downtown campuses and office buildings.

While some suspect that the Chicago Pedway System involves underground tunnels that connect buildings downtown, really they are not tunnels but passages, like hallways, that create a network between buildings and places of transport. Most of the Pedway System is underground, and the heated passages make for a comfortable way of navigating the city during the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer.

Pedway Chicago System UndergroundThe Pedway provides a convenient escape from Chicago’s challenging weather. However, it is not necessarily a space where you would want to spend an afternoon. Because of the visual nature of our tours, Chicago Detours does not offer tours of solely the Pedway. The mostly underground system is essentially a basement (see the area by Macy’s pictured here), and you’ll find better architectural eye candy on street-level. If you still want to do a tour of just the Pedway rather than explore using our map, I recommend Margaret Hicks of Chicago Elevated. She’s super sweet and knows every inch of the system.

What’s really exciting about the Pedway is the discovery that the city is navigable in spaces under our feet. It’s about uncovering the unseen layers of the city.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director

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