Willis Tower
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Willis Tower: Tours & Tickets

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5 Architecture Facts About the Willis Tower

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.

Commissioning The Building

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.

Advancements in Architecture

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.

Inspiration

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.

How was it Built

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.

The Skydeck

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.

Willis Tower: Our Tips

Where is it

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.

Where to Park

Parking is available at 221 W. Adams, and purchasing a parking card in advance online will get you a discount.

When to Go

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.

Admission

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.

Good to Know

  • When to visit
    April - Sept: 9:00AM - 10:00PM | Oct - March: 10:00AM - 8:00PM
  • What is the price?
    $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 there
    Take the L, walk, or drive.
  • Additional tips
    As 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

It was so worth the time and money I spent. I learned a lot!

I would most likely book another activity with Get Your Guide as I was very satisfied. I was able to show my ticket using my phone. I was supposed to take the tour at noon but decided to take it in the evening instead so they issued me another ticket without any fuss.

Chicago River Architecture Cruise Reviewed by Katrina, 09/26/2017

I have been to Chicago a lot, but never saw the city from this angle.

It was narrated in an interesting way that kept your attention and helped you understand what is all around the city. It also gave a lot of historical information that was really interesting as well.

Chicago River Architecture Cruise Reviewed by John, 09/18/2017

My husband has wanted to do this tour for a while and it was great!

It was a great tour and our guide was very informative (Ben) and had a good sense of humor as well.

Chicago River Architecture Cruise Reviewed by Denise, 09/11/2017

Excellent, entertaining and informational

Our guide Nick was fantastic. Great way to entertain out of town guests. Never gets old.

Chicago River Architecture Cruise Reviewed by Mary, 09/09/2017

Great way to see and learn about Chicago.

Our stay was short, so this was an excellent way to learn about the city highlights. Very convenient to get off when you want and be able to pick up the bus later. We bought our tickets on line which was convenient and had no trouble with validating them when we arrived at our pick up point. We will use this service again.

Things To Do Near Willis Tower