Willis Tower / Skydeck Chicago, Chicago

Willis Tower / Skydeck Chicago, Chicago (must see)

Sears, Roebuck, a Chicago icon since 1906, had outgrown its offices in the city's west area. The search for a new site would not be an easy one. Shifting the headquarters to the suburbs would not do. Company executives began to focus on the western border of the Loop district. The Loop site was finally acquired in 1970.

It was decided that the new building would be either 70 stories of 60,000 square feet each or 60 stories of 70,000 square feet each. The Sears merchandise group would be moved in, and the remaining spaces would be rented out. Plans revealed the tower was intended to be 1,450 feet high. It topped out in 1973 with over 100 floors.

In subsequent years the tower would undergo renovations and changes in ownership. Sears itself moved out to Hoffman Estates in Illinois in 1990. The building continued to be called Sears Tower until 2009 when Willis Group of London leased part of the building and obtained naming rights. Sears Tower was now Willis Tower.

The Tower was designed by architect Bruce Graham and the structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. The basic design concept was nine square "tubes" bundled in a 3x3 matrix having a square base with 225-foot sides. The Tower was the first building to use this innovative design, both efficient and economic.

The Willis Tower Observation deck on the 103rd floor, called Skydeck, is 1,353 feet above street level. It opened to the public on June 22, 1974. There is a second observation deck on the 99th floor. Retractable glass balconies were installed in a renovation of the Skydeck in 2009. The balconies are all-glass boxes that project up to four feet from the sides of the Tower. Elevators reach the top in 60 seconds.

Every year, almost two million tourists visit Skydeck, the highest in the United States, and enjoy breathtaking views spanning 50 miles and four states on a clear day.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Chicago. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Willis Tower / Skydeck Chicago on Map

Sight Name: Willis Tower / Skydeck Chicago
Sight Location: Chicago, USA (See walking tours in Chicago)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Chicago, Illinois

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Creating your own self-guided walk in Chicago is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Chicago Introduction Walking Tour

Chicago Introduction Walking Tour

Sitting on the shore of Lake Michigan in the U.S. State of Illinois, Chicago has had many nicknames throughout its history, including the Windy City, Chi-Town, Second City, and the City of the Big Shoulders referring to the numerous towers and high-risers that punctuate its skyline.

Prior to the Europeans, the area of today's Chicago was successively inhabited by various Native American...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Chicago Chinatown Walking Tour

Chicago Chinatown Walking Tour

Tucked away just south of the Loop, the Chinatown of Chicago was established in 1912 and is considered one of the best examples of American Chinatown. While it may be one of Chicago’s smallest neighborhoods geographically, it is big on character, colors, sights, sounds, and flavors. Here, you’ll find a wide range of unique boutiques, specialty shops, religious sights, authentic Chinese...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Chicago Old Town Walking Tour

Chicago Old Town Walking Tour

Settled in 1850 by German immigrants, Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood is a popular destination for locals and visitors who cater to the entertainment venues, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and boutiques – all of which have turned an area once referred to as the “Cabbage Patch” into an attraction that rivals Navy Pier, Wrigley Field and the Magnificent Mile.

Start your Old Town walking...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
University of Chicago Walking Tour

University of Chicago Walking Tour

Founded in 1890, the University of Chicago is among the world’s most prestigious educational institutions. As of 2020, the University’s students, faculty and staff have included 100 Nobel laureates, giving it the fourth-most affiliated Nobel laureates of any university.

Set in the heart of Chicago’s famous eclectic neighborhood, Hyde Park, the campus is worth a visit as it offers a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Loop District Architecture Walking Tour

Loop District Architecture Walking Tour

Chicago features an outstanding architectural legacy, having long been connected with some of architecture's most important names: Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, Holabird & Root, and others. The multi-layered Loop District, in particular, offers an extensive number of Chicago’s famous architectural “must-sees” – from modern skyscrapers to historic buildings...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Chicago Navy Pier Walking Tour

Chicago Navy Pier Walking Tour

Additional to scenic views of the lake, the boats, and the city skyline, the Navy Pier offers a variety of attractions on the waterfront – for kids as well as adults – that draw nearly ten million people annually, making this Chicago's most visited spot. Yes, some may see it as a “tourist trap”, but it is worth the time and money to spend some time here, so take this self-guided walk...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles

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