Located in Downtown Chicago, Illinois, the Skydeck of the Willis Tower is an iconic landmark for anyone who visits the famous windy city. Visitors who dare to walk out on to the clear glass box, known as “The Ledge”, will be able to see the entire city of Chicago at their feet from one of the tallest buildings in the world. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is not to be missed!
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Construction began on the Willis Tower, previously known as the Sears Tower, in 1970 when Sears needed more office space for their growing company. They decided to go one step further and build one of the tallest office buildings in the world!
The Skydeck was built by the architecture firm of Skidmore, Ownings, and Merrill, who ultimately designed The Ledge expansions as well.
Sears remained in the building until 1988 but the name of the building remained the same until 2009. Currently, the 110-story building attracts millions of visitors a year and is named after the global insurance company based out of London – The Willis Group.
The Ledge was opened in 1974 and provides visitors with a truly breathtaking way to view the city of Chicago. Ironically, the inspiration to build the Ledge came from the thousands of forehead prints left behind from visitors trying to see the city below. The movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was also a huge influence on the decision to build Ledge – since in the movie, the main characters press their foreheads against the glass themselves.
The engineers designed the Ledge boxes to have almost no visible support system, making the experience equally beautiful and exhilarating. Now, thanks to the brilliant minds who got tired of seeing forehead prints on their beloved building, visitors have a pure and unobstructed view of the city below.
As visitors enter the Willis Tower, a large variety of museum-quality exhibitions greet and captivate them with stories about the infamous tower. Learn how it was built, how long it took, who has come and gone, and how it compares to other buildings around the world. There are high-quality video screens, an educational theater presentation, and even a large variety of hands-on and interactive exhibits for guests of all ages to enjoy as they wait their turn to ride the elevators to the top of the Skydeck!
Once visitors complete their short ride in the multi-media elevators, they will arrive at floor 103 – The Skydeck. This is where they can walk in a circle around the building and explore the city of Chicago like they never have before. Visitors can even see more than 50 miles in all directions on a clear day and if they are feeling brave enough, walk out onto the Ledge.
The Ledge is housed in the eighth-tallest building in the entire world and lets visitors step out into a clear glass box suspended at 1,353 feet (442 meters) over the city. The view is equally breathtaking and terrifying, but visitors should not worry, the glass boxes are made of 1,500-pound individual sheets of glass that are tempered for extreme durability.
There is so much to take in from the city at this height, Wrigley Field and the downtown area lit up at nighttime are two of the most enjoyable. Visitors will feel as if they are looking down into a dollhouse replica of Chicago – all the people, buildings, cars, and bridges down below will look like miniatures of the real thing.
Although the Willis Tower is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city of Chicago, it is not to be missed. Visitors can even make a whole afternoon out of it – be sure to visit the world-class gift shop and café on the way out!
The Skydeck Chicago, 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, Phone: 312-875-0066