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Jul 8 2011

Sears Tower - Willis Tower Skydeck


The highlight of our fifth day of vacation and trip to downtown Chicago was a visit to the Sears Tower - Willis Tower Skydeck. This was the view of the Sears Tower shortly after exiting the Metra train station.


Same photo zoomed in to the top of the Sears Tower.


Finally, the same photo all the way zoomed in on the Skydeck Ledges which extend 4.3 feet outside the building.


A clearer photo, taken along our walk, of the Sears Tower Skydeck Ledges. Look closely, you can see people standing on the glass Ledges.


Looking straight up from the bottom of the Sears Tower. You can just barely make out the Skydeck Ledges.


Same location but zoomed in on the Skydeck Ledges. Again, you can see the brave soles who are standing outside the building 103 floors up!


Drew and Will standing in front of...the Willis Tower globe and flags...that name just hurts.


Getting closer, Daddy and his two oldest boys briefly pause to get our picture taken in front of the Skydeck sign.


Inside, a display shows the 50 mile, four state, area that can be seen from the Sears Tower Skydeck.


A nice Chicago skyline picture with the three tallest buildings, left to right, being the John Hancock Center, Trump Tower and the Aon Center/Amoco Building.


A self-portrait on the Sears Tower Skydeck with the John Hancock Center and Trump Tower in the background.


The 100 story John Hancock Center was the world's first mixed-use high-rise and was completed in 1970 when it was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City. It has the third highest residence in the world (after the Chicago Trump Tower and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) and is currently the 6th tallest building in the world when simply measured to the highest point (including antenna).

The base contains indoor parking for over 700 cars, followed upward by retail space, office space and floors 45 to 92 containing about 700 condominiums. The John Hancock Center has the fastest elevators in North America traveling at 1,800 feet per minute (20.5 mph) resulting in a ride to the top taking only 40 seconds.


The 83 story Aon Center, completed in 1973, where my father worked during the 1970s. It was originally the Standard Oil Building and later the Amoco Building before becoming the Aon Center.

For about a year, it was the tallest building in Chicago until the Sears Tower was completed in 1974. It remained behind only the Sears Tower and the World Trade Centers as the world's tallest building when measured in height to the roof until the late 1990s. Until 2007, it was the tallest building in the world without any major antennae or spires. Finally, it remains the world's tallest regular "box-shaped" building.

The building was originally clad in 43,000 slabs of Italian Carrara marble (same as used by Michelangelo in his sculptures) cut thinner than previously attempted in cladding a building. In 1974, just a year after construction, Chicago's harsh winters caused significant cracks and bowing culminating in one of the massive marble slabs falling off and penetrating the roof of the neighboring Prudential Center. Stainless steel straps were added to the panels in an attempt to fix the problem but between 1990 to 1992 all 43,000 one-and-a-half-inch think marble panels were replaced by two-inch-thick Mt. Airy granite panels at a cost of about $80 million...2/3rds of the original $120 million cost of the entire building!


A view looking east out over Grant Park, Monroe Street Harbor and Lake Michigan. Monroe Harbor is the part of Lake Michigan where I've swam in about a half-dozen Chicago Triathlons.


Finally, Drew and Will standing on a Ledge at the Willis Tower Skydeck.


Despite my best efforts to terrify them, Drew and Will weren't the least bit scared to stand outside the Sears Tower 103 floors (1,353 feet) above the ground!


This is a scan of the photo taken by the Skydeck people with their camera mounted on the ceiling and remotely operated. I strongly recommend anyone going to the Skydeck to take the time and pay for the professional photograph.


Looking down away from the building.


Looking down toward the building. I did remember to take a short movie which I may post it if I get the time someday. But, I never thought to take a photo looking up. Also, we had one boy not feeling too well so, although we thought about doing it, we didn't take the time to get in line for two Ledges and take a photo from one to another. It really makes a neat shot. Something for next time when Mama and Landon can come along.

Posted by Don |


  1. #1
    bemsj said on March 3, 2012 | Reply

    I am a postage stamp collector in Japan. I have one postal card issued by US post in 1986 depicted Chicago, including sears tower, jon hancock tower.
    I will put this postal card onto A4 sized paper, adding some text, and also I may copy and paste your fine photo of John Hancock tower and top zoom view of Sears tower. It is OK?

    in 1974, I have been to Chicago, stayed only 6 months, I visited both John Hancock and Sears tower. when I was so young though.

  2. #2
    Don replied to bemsj on March 6, 2012 | Reply

    Bemsj: I already answered by email, but that is OK with me. My father was a stamp collector and I love your idea of putting your putting your memory together. Good luck.

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