Enter sign to the Chicago Pedway

HEAR BELOW 2021: My Pedway Soundwalk
Map and Sonic Points of Interest

1.25 miles, about 40-50 minutes

IMAGE: Entrance to the Chicago Pedway
Image Credit: Photo by [unknown, maybe get a different picture]

LISTEN to the complete HEAR BELOW: My Pedway Soundwalk (coming soon)

Audio Credit: Andy Slater

Directions and Parking for HEAR BELOW: My Pedway Soundwalk

The HEAR BELOW: My Pedway Soundwalk is a north-south route centering around Chicago’s Millennium Station (roughly Randolph and Michigan) that may be traveled in either direction or from the middle. (See the three trailheads in the map below.) How you choose to navigate the sound trail, what other plans you have downtown, and how much you are willing to pay for parking, will determine you will get to HEAR BELOW and where to park. It’s all up to you, it’s your soundwalk.

On the south end of the soundwalk, the easiest, and most expensive parking option is the Grant Park North parking garage. You might also choose to park south of Ida B Wells (Congress) and walk north on Michigan to Monroe. If you choose this parking option, be sure NOT to enter the Grant Park South Garage. On the north end of the soundwalk you might find street parking around the Aon Center or Prudential Plaza, or on lower Wacker. And to the east, reasonably-priced street parking is available on South Columbus Drive between Monroe and Jackson. (Just be careful not to park on Columbus before 10am and between 4-6pm.) In all cases be sure to lock your car and observe the parking regulations. If you are planning on taking the “L” into the loop, take the Red or Brown lines from the north; the Blue or Green lines from the west; or the Red or Green lines from the south.

A note on WiFi. For the most part WiFi is unavailable in the Pedway. Data should be available throughout the Pedway and is dependent on your carrier. Our advice is to plan ahead to load maps before starting your soundwalk. GPS, while not as accurate underground as above ground should be relatively accurate.

My Pedway Soundwalk Map and Route
My Pedway Soundwalk may be traveled north (Trailhead 1 Map) from the northwest corner of Monroe Street and Michigan Avenue (beginning in the Monroe Street Lobby of the Grant Park North Garage), through the Millennium Station and the hotels on Wacker Street and conclude at the Aon Center or Prudential Plaza or in the reverse direction during the week (Trailhead 2 Map). For a shorter walk (Route 3 Map), you may wish to begin at Millennium Station (Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue), bypassing the leg that passes through the Grant Park North Garage, and ending at the Aon Center… or vice versa. (See the maps below.) In addition, the Aon Center and the Prudential Plaza are closed on the weekend, so note the alternative exits. Finally, the north end of the pedway provides multiple choices for navigation. It can become a little disorienting, though you shouldn’t need to leave bread crumbs. Just ask for assistance if you are lost. Also, note the alternative route in the Illinois Center—in green—for wheelchair accessibility.

If you choose to begin in the Grant Park North Garage, be sure that you do NOT enter the Grant Park South Garage. The beginning of the south end of the soundwalk is at the corner of Monroe and Michigan. (See the Overview Map above.) Walking north you will pass through several sections of the parking garage and through several lobbies including the Monroe Street Lobby, the Washington Street Lobby, and the Randolph Street Lobby before being faced with the choice of walking directly to the South Shore platform or through the Millennium Station on the way to the South Shore platform. (At the time of this writing, the Chicago Cultural Center is closed, and entry to the Pedway going west may be still closed.) If you choose to begin at the Millennium Station skip over the description on the Grant Park North Garage Pedway and the two related Sonic Points of Interest.

From Millennium Station proceed north to the Metra platform or northwest through the revolving door and up the stairs into the lobby of the Prudential Plaza. (Note that first part of this route is NOT accessible and is only open on weekdays.) From the south lobby of the Metra station walk down the ramp or steps and across the platform, through the north lobby. Take the elevator or stairs up one level, then up another flight of stairs (see the map for the wheelchair accessible route), and proceed through the Illinois Center. Head east at East South Water Street, under the Hyatt Regency Hotel, over Stetson Ave and Columbus Drives, pass the Swissotel, through the Radisson Blu Aqua and the Fairmont Chicago Hotels, and under the AON Center and Prudential Plaza. You might choose to end your soundwalk at the fountain just outside and south of the AON Center, or you could choose to walk through the lobby of the Prudential Plaza and end your soundwalk at Beaubien Court. Note that along the way there are several optional route variations at the far north end of the Illinois Center and the Hyatt Regency. If you are walking south from the north just reverse this description.

If it is a weekday, and you choose to begin your soundwalk at Millennium Station or on Wacker Drive at the Chicago Architecture Center just reverse the above description.

HB Trail Head 1 MapHB Trail Head 2 Map
Drag window to the right to see Trailhead 1 Map. Drag window to the left to see Trailhead 2 Map. Trailhead 3 may be seen on either map.

• • •

Let’s Get Started – Breathing Exercise

When you get to the beginning of the HEAR BELOW soundwalk, take some time to slow down before beginning your walk. Relax your body, feel your feet firmly on the ground and let your arms hang loosely at your sides. If you are comfortable, close your eyes. Breath in through your nose for five counts, hold it for five counts, and breath out of your mouth for five counts. Repeat three to five times, until you feel yourself slowing down and relaxing.

Continue breathing and listen to the sounds all around you. Listen to the sounds closest to you. Are they constant or sustained, or are they intermittent? Next listen for the sounds farther away from you. Again, ask yourself are they constant or intermittent? Finally, listen for the sounds farthest away from you, ones you can barely hear. Are these sounds constant or intermittent? Are any of the sounds you are hearing unusual? Are you hearing things you don’t expect?

Take a few more breaths as you have been doing. When you are ready, open your eyes and begin the HEAR BELOW soundwalk. As you proceed, it is best to walk in silence. A soundwalk is intended to be a personal listening experience. If you are walking with someone else, save your thoughts to the end of the walk before having a conversation. The sound of your footsteps becomes part of the walk, listen to the leaves, gravel, and pavement under your feet. Pause at each of the following sonic points of interest. Listen to the sound around you, read the description, and listen to the brief recording.

• • •


1. Monroe Street Lobby, Grant Park North GarageHB Monroe LobbyHB Sonic Point 1Monroe Street Entrance

North West corner of Monroe and Michigan
GPS: 41°52’59” N 87°37’29″W, 590 ft Elevation
Access: Elevator and Stairs from Street-Level

IMAGES: Monroe Street Entrance and Lobby
Image Credit: Christophe Preissing

Audio Credit: Andy Slater

1930s Monroe and MichiganDESCRIPTION
The Monroe Street Lobby lies at the south end of the Grant Park North Garage. On street level is the University Club of Chicago, part of the Chicago’s renowned Michigan Avenue Street Wall. To the east, and above the garage, is Grant Park’s Crown Fountain and the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Listen between the 2 payment machines located just inside the lobby door. As they go in and out of sync with each other, along with the rhythmic thud and waves of squeaks from the escalator, they form a machine song almost catchy enough to bob to.

When leaving the Monroe Lobby, the soundscape loses the escalator song, and the space opens up. Revealed is the vast garage, capturing the din of outside traffic, arriving/leaving trains, and vehicles. Every sound leaves a trail behind it that slowly backs into the garage ambience. While passing by the numerous exhaust fans spend a moment allowing the hum to cover you. The push of air and grind of machines request your attention — they get so lonely.


2. Washington Street Lobby and Tunnel, Grant Park North GarageWashington Street LobbyTunnel to Washington Street Lobby

Washington Street and Michigan Avenue
GPS: 41°52’52” N 87°37’27″W, 590 ft Elevation
Access: Stairs from street level, public restrooms

IMAGE: Washington Street Lobby and Tunnel
Image Credit: Christophe Preissing


Audio Credit: Andy Slater

Michigan Boulevard BuildingDESCRIPTION
The Washington Street Lobby is located along Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue Street Wall, just south of Washington Street, and next to the Michigan Boulevard Building. The Chicago Cultural Center—Chicago’s first public library—is just north of Washington. The tunnel leading into the lobby from the south opens up to a very large triangular space—unlike the Monroe Street Lobby—complete with windows to pay for parking and public restrooms.

Similar to the Monroe Lobby, this space drones with traffic, fluorescent lights, and people. Feet and wheels lose their directionality and voices lift and carry. Compared to the garage it sounds closed but depending on people propagating in the space, the size of the area is expanded. And of course, the escalator needs some WD40.


3. South Shore Line PlatformSouth Shore Line PlatformSouth Shore Line Trains

GPS: 41°53’4″ N, 87°37’27” W, 580 ft Elevation
Access: Pedway ramp/stairs from Grant Park North Garage

IMAGE: South Shore Line Platform and Trains
Image Credits: Christophe Preissing


Audio Credit: Andy Slater

Millennium Station EntranceDESCRIPTION
After passing through the various colored sections of the Grant Park North Garage, head east along the north edge of the garage, up the steps or ramp, and through another long and dark passageway. At the end of the tunnel the bright orange neon sign beckons, “Thank you for riding the South Shore Line”. The South Shore Line is the last interurban railroad in the country.

The corridor soaks up the sound of the garage and the din of trains are in your future. Walking on the platform above the Metra tracks and between idle trains on both sides, the hissing and fans become constant reminders that you’re still in Chicago. When the timing is right a Metra train will travel below, and the bells fill the station demanding your acknowledgment. You can’t really ignore them so enjoy chasing their tails from floor to ceiling.


4. North Platform and Lobby, South Water Street Metra StationSouth Water Street Station LobbyMetra Train

GPS: 41°53’9″ N, 87°37’25” W, 590 ft Elevation
Access: Ramp and stairs from the south lobby to track level,
elevator and stairs at the north lobby

IMAGE: Metra North Platform and Lobby
Image Credits: Christophe Preissing


Audio Credit: Andy Slater

Metra Platfoerm Old SignsDESCRIPTION
The South Water Street Station lies on the site of the old Great Central Station, built by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1856. For a time the largest building in downtown Chicago, it had eight track lines that terminated at South Water Street. It was damaged in the Chicago fire, but remained in operation until it was demolished in 1893 with the opening of the new Central Station farther south on Harrison Street.

The route from Millennium Station to the Metra platform and South Water Street Station carries overlapping voices. The paternal triplets call out their respective names, beckoning you to them. Track 3, track 4, track 5… sometimes they form a chorus or hocket back and forth. The sweet spot between the 3 upright screens lets you hear just how serious they are at their job.

We already know the Metra loves ringing its bells but hearing them from their source will really drive their point home… especially if it stings in your ear. On the other end of the platform, the triplet voices call out again, luring the traveler to their respective tracks.

In the waiting room lives a box on the wall. It beeps incessantly and it’s hard to hide from especially with the tile floor. From the ceiling gurgles a Y2K era AI voice. It struggles to announce every leaving train.


Elevator ButtonsElevator Doors5. Creaky Old Elevator from the Metra Station to the Illinois Center

GPS: 41°53’12” N, 87°37’27” W, 630 ft Elevation
Access: Elevator

IMAGE: Elevator doors and buttons
Image Credit: Christophe Preissing


Audio Credit: Andy Slater

Elevator from the Metra LobbyDESCRIPTION
The creaky old elevator connects the subterranean world of old South Water Street to the modern and commercial Illinois Center. Just west on South Water Street was the location of the old Water Street Market. Buildings once backed up to the edge of the river where Wacker Drive is now located. The buildings took in freight from riverboats on one side, and on the other, a bustling wholesale produce market—a colorful and crowded scene of horses and wagons, barrels and carts picked up loads of fruits and vegetables. The Market was moved in 1925 making way for an explosion of development of 1920s skyscrapers on the west side of Michigan Avenue.

It sounds like it might breakdown but don’t let that scare you. The creaks and bumps compliment the semitones of the motor drones. Combined with the vibrations and upward pressure of the elevator’s climb it might as well be a 6 Flags ride (or House On The Rock).


6. Tunnel/Bridge under/over North Stetson DriveTunnel-Bridge Stetson

GPS: 41°53’10” N, 87°37’23” W, 630 ft Elevation

IMAGE: Bridge over Columbus Avenue
Image Credits: Christophe Preissing


Audio Credit: Andy Slater

Stetson Bridge FloorDESCRIPTION
The north end of the HEAR BELOW Soundwalk runs through the east side of the Michigan-Wacker Historic District, on the south bank of the Chicago River, and is on the site of the old South Water Street market, and before that, the site of Fort Dearborn. The passage is both under and over upper and lower North Stetson Avenue, one of several multi-level streets in this area known as the New Eastside. These multi-level streets were designed to serve passenger vehicles on the upper level, with lower levels for freight and commerce. Other multi-level streets in the area include Wacker Drive, Columbus Drive, Lake Street, South Water Street, and Randolph Street.

The door is an air lock. The whoosh and sucks away the outside sounds. It opens to a corridor high above the street. The bridge rattles from trucks almost unsettlingly. The floor is made of 3 inch raised circles that grind and snap under wheels and canes. The floor below the grip tiles squeaks like an old cottage. From the furthest point from the air lock stamping, banging, shouting, clapping will reward you an action movie impact reflection suitable for Instagram.


Spa Di La Fronza SalonSpa Di La Fronza Salon Approach7. Spa Di La Fronza Salon, Illinois Center

GPS: 41°53’14” N, 87°37’18” W, 620 ft Elevation
Access: Ramp and stairs from the west

IMAGE: Spa Di La Fronza Salon
Image Credits: Christophe Preissing


Audio Credit: Andy Slater

Spa Di La Fronza SalonDESCRIPTION
In the multiple levels of the Illinois Center one can find just about every sort of shop that serves hotel guests and residents of the Park Millennium. The Spa Di La Fronza is one such place. Nestled in the southeast corner of the lower level of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, this old world Italian salon run by Frank La Franza harkens back to a different time. The sound of classic jazz and Frank Sinatra wafts down the pedway and welcomes you to a different time and place.

Down the hall the floor turns to wall-to-wall carpet with distant music. The barber shoppe is always playing music from an outside speaker. The barber will play Sinatra upon request and bend your ear about Old Blue Eyes if you let him.


After passing by the Spa, you may exit up the stairs at East South Water Drive and North Columbus Drive, or continue past the Swissotel, Radisson Blu Aqua (one of two buildings by architect Jeanne Gang in the New East Side neighborhood), and Fairmont Chicago hotels. Wind past the Lakeshore Athletic Club and exit via the elevator in the Park Millennium building. During the week continue into the Aon Center and Prudential Plaza (once the tallest building in Chicago), exiting on Beaubien Court just north of Randolph Street. Listen for and note your own sonic points of interest through the end of the route, and find out more about about Chicago’s architecture at the Chicago Architecture Center.

• • •

When you get to the end of the HEAR BELOW soundwalk, take a few moments to relax before exiting the pedway. Take a few deep breaths as you did before the soundwalk and think about what you have heard and witnessed. Think about the world of sounds and sights of the pedway. What is unique about each of the spaces below and above the street level and how does the architecture and materials reflect the sound of the different spaces? How is the north part of the walk—through the Illinois Center and around the hotels—different from the south part of the walk—through the train stations and the Grant Park North Parking. How is the sound different and why?

We welcome your thoughts and reflections on these questions and on your soundwalk experience. Post your images and videos to social media using the hashtag #hearbelow. If you would like to share them with us and with others, you may comment below or if you would like to share audio, video, or still images from your soundwalk, please contact us.