Treat yourself to an exhilarating view over the whole of Chicago from the top of the Willis Tower. Ride 103 floors to the Skydeck and step out onto…
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Top sights in Chicago
For almost 25 years the Willis Tower, more commonly known as Sears Tower, held the title for the tallest building in the U.S. Second place isn’t bad, right? And as the 12th tallest in the world at a height of 1,451 feet, it is Chicago’s most beloved skyscraper.
In order to house their rapidly growing company, Sears commissioned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1969. Architect Bruce Graham and engineer Fazlur Rahman Kahn led.
The Willis Tower was the first to ever use a bundled tube structure. Kahn’s design was so revolutionary that it was later used for the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Graham’s design was inspired by a cigarette ad. He demonstrated the concept to a colleague by pulling cigarettes out of a pack to illustrate the 9 tubes at different heights.
Construction began in April of 1971 and was finished by May 1973. Economically efficient for a building its size, the cost to build was $150 million, about $800 million today.
Willis Tower’s observation deck is what makes it celebrated. At 1,353 feet, visitors can feel the building sway on a windy day and see over the plains of Illinois on a clear day.
The address of Willis Tower is 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606. Public transportation is easy because it's in such a central location -- off Blue, Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple and Red Lines on the ‘L.
Parking is available at 221 W. Adams, and purchasing a parking card in advance online will get you a discount.
Skydeck Chicago is open 365 days a year from 9AM to 10PM April through September and 10AM to 8PM October through March. View at night for the romantic glittering cityscape, by day for the sweeping view of Lake Michigan.
The basic price for adult admission is $19.50. A variety of ticketing bundles with other Chicago attractions, like a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, are available.
- When should I visit?April - Sept: 9:00AM - 10:00PM |
Oct - March: 10:00AM - 8:00PM
- Is it expensive?$19.50
- Will I need a guide?Nope, but they are available if you want special insights into the building and its surroundings.
- How to get thereTake the L, walk, or drive.
- Additional informationAs with other spectacular views, the best times to visit the SkyDeck are in the early morning and around sunset.
What people are saying about Willis Tower
Enjoyed the tour very much, despite the off-and-on ran drops. I've taken a similar tour several years ago with another operator. Both were quite inspiring, especially noting the new buildings that have been compleeted since the last time. I would recommend this to anyone.
I'm a civil engineer and my husband works in construction admin so we have somewhat of an interest in architecture, although we chose this tour because of the river. Not only did we enjoy it even more than we expected, our son and his two Navy sailor buddies enjoyed it. The boat was comfortable, the docent (Chris) was great and the drinks were awesome! It was a great deal.
Highly recommended. Great fun and educational. Beautiful views. Stunning architecture with the story behind the buildings too.
Our guide, Ben, was excellent. Knowledgable about Chicago history and architecture and witty. This is my 4th time doing this type of tour, and it's always interesting, fun and educational.
Lexi was excellent and enthusiastic guide for a fun and informative tour topped off with a quick but adequate ride on Lake Michigan ending with an amazing shoreline view ! Uniqueness of going through the locks was frosting on the cake.