Chicago, which is located in Illinois, is one of the largest states in the U.S. Every year, millions of tourists visit Chicago. When it comes to tourist cities, Chicago comes in second, behind New York City. There is plenty to see in Chicago, such as the classy stores, the restaurants, and the culture. Of all the things that Chicago is famous for, most would say that it is the skyline.
Willis Tower was once known as the Sears Tower. There are 110 stories, and it stands 1,450-feet above the ground. When it was built, it was known as being the world’s tallest building. It held this title for 25 years until Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur was built. The construction of this tower resulted in Willis Tower becoming the second tallest building in the world.
The Observation Deck
Today, Willis Tower is the second tallest building in the United States, with One World Trade Center being the tallest. The buildings that are taller than these are located in the Eastern Hemisphere. Even though Willis Tower lost its title, it is still a huge part of Chicago’s history, and it is a popular tourist attraction. Over a million people visit the building every year to look at Chicago from the observation deck.
This building is incredible. If you could find a scale big enough to weigh the building, it would register at 400 million pounds. The cabling installed in the building stretches for 25,000 miles. That is nothing compared to the telephone lines. The lines are about 43,000 miles long. This means that the line could spread across the United States from coast to coast as many as 15 times. This is necessary because the 12,000 people that the building can house need access to phone lines.
The need for the monster building arose in 1969 when Sears, Roebuck, & Co. was the biggest retailer in the world. They wanted to bring many workers to the Chicago area, where they would all work under one roof. Sears had big plans for the company, which was going to require millions of square feet of offices. They hired Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill to design the skyscraper. The engineer responsible for the tower was Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was his groundbreaking idea that brought the Sears Tower to life.
Construction didn’t go as smoothly as everyone would have liked. Residents of Chicago were worried that the tower would ruin their TV reception if it went higher than 67 floors. In 1972, they got together and sued Sears to keep them from exceeding 67 floors. The judge threw out the case and suggested that the residents get taller antennas. Finally, after all of the issues, the tower was completed in May 1973. It cost a total of $150 million, which would be $850 million today.
Selling the Tower
In 1992, Sears started falling gon hard times. They were knocked out as the top retailer in the world, and they were shifting out of the tower. Two years later, Sears was ready to sell the tower. They found a new buyer, AEW Capital Management. New owners came and went, but the tower’s name remained Sears, thanks to the store’s ownership and naming rights. In the 2000s, it suffered a significant blow when people started worrying about terrorist attacks. This caused scared tenants to leave the building. Five men even went to jail for plotting to destroy the tower.
Willis Group Holdings
In 2009, the building was leased by the Willis Group Holdings and asked for the naming rights, which they will keep until at least, 2024. In 2012, United Airlines moved its headquarters into the building, and they are the most prominent tenants in the tower. American Airlines may be the biggest tenant, but the real celebrity of the tower is the Skydeck. There are boxes called, The Ledge, that stick out over four feet from the Skydeck. They are made of glass, and they give you a bird’s eye view of the city. Anyone afraid of heights shouldn’t enter The Ledge, because it is 103 stories up. What makes it even scarier is that the whole Ledge is made of glass.
A Horrifying Incident
In June 2019, a horrifying incident occurred. Tourists were standing on a Skydeck 103 floors up when the glass began to shatter beneath their feet. A mother and her two young children went to check out the views from The Ledge. As they were standing there, they could no longer see through the glass. The glass that formed the base of the box had shattered. While they were standing there, they could hear the glass cracking. Fortunately, the family was able to get off The Ledge safely.
After the incident, The Ledge was shut down for the day. It turned out that it was just a protective layer that covered the actual glass had cracked. The glass covering was only a quarter of an inch thick. The covering was replaced, and The Ledge was reopened the next morning. Fortunately, it wasn’t as dangerous as they thought at first, but it is something that the family will remember for the rest of their lives.