Some of them had been watching the construction remake the south end of Pioneer Court near the DuSable Bridge for months.
Some were in town to see the USC Trojans play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
A movie critic from France, in town for the Chicago International Film Festival, got in line on a whim after realizing she wouldn’t have to wait hours.
They all visited the new flagship Chicago Apple Store, 401 N. Michigan Ave., which opened Friday afternoon at the site where Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built the first cabin around which Chicago grew. Everyone who entered the towering glass doors, whether the first few in line who waited hours, or those who arrived later and waited a few minutes, was greeted by a line of clapping, cheering, high-fiving Apple employees.
As the store got ready to open, employees and people in the crowd whooped, then chanted, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”
Those in line and others gathered on Michigan Avenue gawked as the first customers entered the store, greeted by Apple CEO Tim Cook. Gov. Bruce Rauner, flanked by security guards, strolled out and past several television crews toward the street.
Lines snaked through the plaza where weeks ago, an oversized statue of Abraham Lincoln and a man in a cable sweater had stood. Many people stopped just to ask what was going on, then moved on a few minutes later.
Later, Lisa Nesselson, 61, a Chicago native who’s a film critic for France 24, a Paris-based news network, and was visiting for the film festival, said she was surprised that just about 90 minutes after the 5 p.m. opening, she’d been in line for only a few minutes and was close to getting in.
“I just showed up,” she said.
The recent flooding of the Chicago Riverwalk had Nesselson wondering what the store might do in high water.
Behind Nesselson in line was Julie Harris, 34, with her friend Rajeev Sharma, 43, who had already been through the store after waiting in line for two hours, starting about 3:30 p.m.
While music blared from speakers at the east end of the plaza, Harris, who does field marketing for a Fortune 400 company, said she’s impressed by the “full 360 experience” Apple puts together to drive customer loyalty.
Sharma, an Apple fanatic who lives downtown and has seen the store being built, was glad to show Harris around and take another look at the store. But he wasn’t visiting it with any particular purchase in mind.
“I’m waiting for the 10,” Sharma said, referring to the 10th anniversary iPhone X, which comes out Nov. 3.