For an experience that is as native to Chicago as a hot dog on a poppy seed bun piled high with mustard, sweet pickle relish, onions and tomatoes, visitors to the Windy City should make a pilgrimage to the Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago (formerly known as the Sears Tower).
Located in the heart of Chicago’s downtown, the 110-story-building broke ground in 1970 after Sears Roebuck and Company (which was the largest retailer in the world at the time) commissioned architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to build the company a new corporate headquarters.
The Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago sits on the 103rd floor of an engineering marvel. The tower contains 25 miles of plumbing, 1500 miles of electric wiring, 80 miles of
elevator cable, 796 restroom faucets, and more than 145,000 light fixtures. As a finishing touch during the building’s completion, the last beam that was put in place was signed by 12,000 construction workers, Sears employees and Chicagoans.
Visitors to the Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago had better not be afraid of heights. Once they reach the observation deck, guests can see over 50 miles in each direction and see four states. This is apparently something that many people really enjoy, because the Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago is visited by 1.3 million tourists each year.
Beginning in 2009, some of those visitors (the brave ones) began stepping out on The Ledge. Made up of four glass boxes that jut out 4.3 feet from the Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago and are strong enough to support an elephant, The Ledge lets tower visitors stand 1,353 feet above the ground and take in unobstructed views of Chicago sights like Wrigley Field, Cloud Gate at Millennium Park or North Avenue Beach. With glass on the ceiling, floor and all sides, a step out onto The Ledge is an experience you won’t soon forget (and probably won’t want to). Even if you don’t feel like taking that step, the Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago has video screens set up that simulate the experience.
If you want to see some other great parts of the city, the Chicago Attraction Deals package by Smart Destinations saves you 40% on admission to the Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago, Adler Planetarium and a Hop On/Off Trolley Tour! Save money!