Skydeck at Willis Tower Chicago's famed Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, is the highest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. Take a ride up to the sky-high observation deck, which provides breathtaking vistas of downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan, as well as a fascinating perspective via a see-through glass floor. The tower has been called "the Eiffel Tower of the Midwest" and "the Swan of Chicago."
Willis Tower was originally named the John Hancock Building after its primary tenant, but it was later renamed after Charles W. Willson, an early investor in the construction project. The building was completed in 1989 by the Chicago architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. It stands 1,453 feet (442 m) tall with 56 floors.
Willis Tower is composed of two separate but connected buildings: the original John Hancock Center and the newer Wilton R. Curtis Building. They share an underground parking garage but otherwise have no connection other than their common owner, Chicago's mercantile empire that was founded by John Hancock.
The Sears Tower is the third-highest building in Chicago behind only the Donald J. Bartlett Federal Building and Court House and the Michael Reese Hospital Pavilion/Science Center. It was also the first high-rise building in the city to be built since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The tower's height makes it the tallest building in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Willis Tower (previously known as the Sears Tower) is a 110-story structure in the center of downtown Chicago. Willis Tower is not simply one of the world's tallest buildings; it is also a gorgeous symbol in Chicago's skyline. The building was designed by the renowned architect Helmut Jahn and its construction began in 1974. It was completed in 1982 and has been called "the most expensive parking garage in history".
Willis Tower is actually three separate towers in one structure. The top two floors of each tower are shared by CNA Insurance, while the remaining floors are occupied by various other businesses or office spaces. The total number of parking spots in this garage is 2,298, which means that there is more than one spot for every man, woman, and child in Chicago!
Willis Tower was named after American insurance company president William Wirt Willoughby Jr. who had offices on the 22nd floor at the time of his death in 1973. The building was originally supposed to be named "The John Hancock Building" but this name was already used by another skyscraper so it was changed to Willis Tower instead. Today, this building is known for being the home of the Comptroller of the Currency, the highest ranking bank examiner in the United States.
Just so you know, the Sears Tower will always be known as the Sears Tower to those who live in Chicago. No Chicagoan would refer to it as the Willis Tower. And, sure, there is an observation deck. When it was finished in 1973, it was the highest building in the world (at 1454 feet), and it remained the tallest structure in the world for over 25 years. But since then it has been surpassed by two other buildings. The Sears Tower is now ranked 7th all-time among the world's tallest structures.
In 2012, a little over 50 years after it was built, the top of the tower house was renovated. The original silver paint was replaced with white paint that's more reflective of modern skyscrapers. The work was done under the supervision of Turner Construction Company and cost $20 million. Before the renovation, according to one estimate, the view from the top was worth about $150 million annually. After the renovation, estimates range from $300,000 to $1 million per year.