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Tourist-Hungry Chicago Moguls Want To Put Gondolas Above The River

By Austin Brown in News on May 4, 2016 8:18PM

via "A New Vision for Tourism in Chicago"

Is the only thing standing between Chicago and its overdue status as the world's most worthy travel destination a bunch of aerial gondolas? We're a little skeptical, but some local businessmen are determined put the theory to the test.

"Chicago is a world-class city that the rest of the world simply does not know about," Laurence Geller, chairman of Geller Investment and former hotel industry and tourism mogul, told a crowd Tuesday in a presentation to the City Club of Chicago. Called "A New Vision for Tourism in Chicago," the presentation served as a place for Geller and colleague Lou Raizin to unveil a multitude of policy recommendations to the city to increase its tourism and attractiveness to visitors. Their most exciting one? Gondolas.

To be clear, it's not the only recommendation given by Geller and Raizin—they also suggested using light strategically to bring more people to the network of parks around Chicago, as well as many other, smaller attractions. But let's talk about the gondolas more, because gondolas are cool.

Geller and Raizin hope to increase tourism by using an aerial "sky line" of these gondolas to bring tourists all around the city, acting as an attraction on the scale of the London Eye. They hope for it to stretch along the Chicago River all the way to Navy Pier, acting as a high-profile icon for international and cross-country tourists alike.

"We all know the Red Line, the Blue Line, the Green Line. The Sky Line is an aerial gondola—but not your typical aerial gondola," Geller said with staggering enthusiasm. In the tourism off-season, he envisions CPS students riding in the gondolas as part of their school trips.

via "A New Vision for Tourism in Chicago"

Geller also claimed that this venture could bring 76 million tourists and 135 thousand new jobs to Chicago—far beyond Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recently met goal of bringing 50 million tourists to Chicago in a year.

"We're not the smartest guys in the room," he said, "but a light bulb went off."

While emphasizing the possibility of the idea as being "smashing and profitable," Geller, who once had a net worth of around $24 million dollars, did his best to remind the room almost entirely full of high-class policymakers of his credentials as a completely in-touch man of the people. "We're rogue," said the man with thousands of consulting dollars going into his policy recommendations, later mentioning "this is not about enriching the lives and wallets of the 1 percenters."

At press time, the hundreds of thousands of Chicago residents who would likely not be reached by such a gondola system had no official comment. The presentation is a gem you can watch in full here.

[H/T Tribune]