Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago is located at the Willis Tower | Willis Tower Glass Ledge. The deck features a glass floor that extends 90 feet above the street level of Michigan Avenue!
Shoppers and tourists walk on top of the glass flooring of the Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago without even knowing it. The glass floor is used for viewing art exhibitions and concerts, as well as watching city lights at night from high up in the sky.
The deck was built in 1973 by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and opened to the public the following year. The lead architect was Bruce Graham, who also designed Toronto's CN Tower. The Willis Tower Skydeck Chicago remains one of the city's most popular attractions with over 1 million people visiting each year.
Willis Tower is a skyscraper in Chicago's Loop community area. It is best known for being the home of the National Radio Hall of Fame and the American Film Institute Museum. The structure has 49 floors plus a penthouse apartment. Its height is 541 feet (160 m), making it the third-highest building in the city after One Lake Street and 225 N. Wabash Ave. The tower was completed in 1974 and took less than two years to build.
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 2009, a little over 40 years after it was built, the top of the tower was removed for renovation. The steel frame remains intact but the concrete you see today is not the same concrete that was used during construction. A new layer of paint and some new signage amounting to about $20 million in total were added to the tower to mark its anniversary and welcome visitors to Chicago's newest landmark: the Willis Tower Skydeck.
The tower has been called many things over the years, but most often people refer to it as "the Sears Tower" or simply "Sears". Although both names are acceptable, only residents of Chicago will ever call it by its full name. Otherwise, it will always be known as just a tall building next to a shopping mall or on the edge of downtown.
The Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) is the tallest building in Chicago and holds the title of "World's Most Famous Building" according to Condé Nast. The 103-story, 1,717-foot-high skyscraper was completed in 1989 and has been called the "Eiffel Tower of the Midwest" by some critics.
The Sears Tower is the third-tallest building in America behind the New York Times Building and Trump International Hotel & Tower. It is also the second-highest building in Illinois after the John Hancock Center in Chicago which is not actually in Chicago but rather in nearby South Chicago, Illinois. The Willis Tower is owned by a subsidiary of Spanish construction firm Ferrovial that bought it for $150 million in 2004 from Sears, which had recently filed for bankruptcy.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the current count is 101 stories plus a penthouse apartment. However, due to height restrictions on the surrounding block, this figure may go down when the last three buildings reach their maximum allowed height of 430 feet.