Jutting out into Lake Michigan like the city’s turgid phallus is Navy Pier, a tourist trap of international propor- tions. If people see only one thing in Chicago, it’s likely to be the Pier and its exhibition halls, museums, theaters and mall stores. The big advantage of Navy Pier? Nothing re- ally ever happens out here. Hundreds of cops work tire- lessly to see to that. Navy Pier is entirely sterile and devoid of substance, like one big real-world episode of Sesame Street, a Potemkin village set up by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce to assure small-town tourists that cities aren’t the scary, filthy places they’ve always heard about. Instead, people get to stroll arm-in-arm by the big ships that are moored here, licking ice cream cones and feeling, probably for the only time in their lives, like they’re in a Norman Rockwell painting.
Cops aren’t the only ones making sure Navy Pier stays tourist-friendly. The concessions stands and the Pier’s one high-end restaurant are managed by the Stephano family, one of the major mob families left in Chicago, and it’s in their best interest to see to it that Navy Pier has a fun, hospitable reputation. Anybody causing trouble on the Pier, especially trouble that might make it into the media, had best pray that the cops find them before the mob does. They take the protection of Navy Pier very seriously.