Scheme would cost $250m

London Eye architect Marks Barfield has drawn up plans for a $250m cable car in Chicago to boost tourist numbers.

Called the Chicago Skyline, the route would link a number of tourist attractions in the US city including Navy Pier, the Chicago Lakefront, the Riverwalk running alongside the Chicago River and downtown Chicago.

Marks Barfield director David Marks said: “The Chicago Skyline could do for Chicago what the London Eye has done for London and become a very identifiable landmark within the city, driving tourism and prosperity. It will allow local people and visitors alike to appreciate the city and its world-class architecture from a completely new perspective, stimulating Chicago’s tourism industry.”

The year-round aerial gondola could accommodate 3,000 people an hour and operate on half-hour tours day and night along the south bank of the river, 17 stories above the water.

The plan is the brainchild of local businessman Laurence Geller along with theatre impresario and a member of the Choose Chicago tourist body Lou Raizin who said: “The Skyline is a prime example of how we can move Chicago from old guard to vanguard. We kept coming back to the same question: what’s our unique feature? Where’s our Eiffel Tower? Where’s our Big Ben?”

The proposal has not been given planning but the city mayor’s office said it welcomed ideas which would boost tourist numbers.

Chicago had 50 million annual domestic visitors in 2015, an increase of nearly 5% over the prior year, putting the city closer to reaching mayor Rahm Emanuel’s goal of attracting 55 million visitors annually by 2020.

Davis Brody Bond is Marks Barfield’s US partner in the project and the engineer is Jacobs.