As pandemic regulations became more serious, businesses in Chicago, and around the world, lost money. Those that didn’t shut down had to find ways to save their business. For Chicago’s Navy Pier, shuttering Crystal Gardens was their way to make up for the money lost. Those in the community felt sentimental for the Crystal Gardens, it was a space that offered a quiet, free escape in nature away from the city’s hustle, bustle, and cold weather.
The announcement of the Crystal Gardens’ proposed replacement with a paid digital experience brought a lot of negative response. A protest group was developed to fight for this space that would otherwise soon be renovated to hold an immersive, digital experience of nature. The new technological safari experience, the “Illuminarium,” is set to start construction in mid-2022. The irony of real nature replaced by fake nature has fueled the protestors to continue fighting in different ways, such as gathering in protest, spreading awareness through social media, and signing an online petition started by Celine Wysgalla. This petition launched on Sept. 16, 2021 and has so far gotten the support of more than 20,000 people. The petition proposes to protect the Crystal Gardens and build the immersive experience elsewhere in Navy Pier.
If you would like to support the Crystal Gardens, sign the petition and follow @savecrystalgardens on Instagram.