From the State Street bridge in downtown Chicago looking west at night, you’ll see the hulking rectangular structure of the Merchandise Mart bathed in blue and yellow lights.
And nearby, the stone structure of the Christian Science Reading Room on Wacker Drive is decked in blue and yellow. The dome of the InterContinental Hotel also glows the same in the distance.
One of Chicago’s most iconic views has changed over the last week as buildings across the city have lit up in the colors of Ukraine’s flag. Yellow for Ukraine’s fields of wheat, and blue for the skies above them.
It’s a small gesture, but building managers say it’s the least they can do in the face of war.
“The Ukrainian people need to know from Americans right now that we stand with them,” said Nick Pullia, a senior advisor at Navy Pier, where the Centennial Wheel has been lighting up in Ukraine’s colors since the weekend.
Pullia said the Navy Pier staff made a unanimous decision to change the lighting. It’s highly unusual for them to send messages like this to fellow Chicagoans.
“In order for something to go up there it has to truly move us,” said Pullia.
The Courthouse Place office building in River North has also put its regular lighting schedule on hold.
Though it’s easy to do, Tammy McEwan, the building’s marketing director, said her team was set on making the change regardless of how much time it took.
“We just wanted to somehow show our support for Ukraine and this was the most public way to do so,” McEwan said.
Like most buildings with lighting displays, Courthouse Place follows a strict schedule throughout the year. For the Fourth of July, the lights on the building turn red, white and blue. For Christmas, red and green.
Jim Weiss, who oversees the lighting on the Courthouse building, said they also rarely deviate from their schedule.
“Unless it’s like an athletic event, or if the Cubs were to get the pennant again, then we would change the colors for that,” Weiss said. “But other than that, we do very few changes to our schedule.”
It takes something as consequential as a war, he said, to make this kind of statement for all to see.