Willis Tower in Chicago! Wow…not for the faint of heart. In the book Larry Gets Lost in Chicago, the main character, Larry, tells the reader all about the sites you should see when you visit Chicago. One of those sites is the Willis Tower – formerly known as The Sears Tower.
What is the Willis Tower in Chicago?
The Willis Tower is the tallest tower in America, so when you are visiting Chicago, it is impossible to miss this building! It is 110 stories in the heart of downtown Chicago. When reading up on the tower, I learned that in 1969, Sears Roebuck and Company was the largest retailer in the world, with about 350,000 employees.
Deciding it needed a central office space for its many employees, the company hired architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to design what would become one of the largest office buildings in the world.
After breaking ground in 1970, it took three years to complete and used enough concrete to make an eight-lane, five-mile-long highway. The last beam put in place was commemorated by the signatures of 12,000 construction workers, Sears employees, and Chicagoans. Pretty neat, right? But that is not the best part of this building. At least not for me and my kids!
What is the Skydeck?
The tower is a world-renowned building, known as a Chicago icon. The Willis Tower is the eighth-tallest building in the world, and it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It stands 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall.
The draw for us was to go up to the top of the building and see what this Skydeck was all about. If you’re not sure what the Skydeck is, let me enlighten you… The Ledge on the Skydeck allows you to step “outside” of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
The Skydeck is located 1,353 feet in the air, and The Ledge’s glass boxes extend out 4.3 feet from the edge of the Skydeck. Yes…you read that right! And I can tell you from experience…if you are not a fan of heights, this might not be the best place for you!
The Ledge transforms how you experience Chicago. The Skydeck on the 103rd floor, and when you walk out onto The Ledge, you are able to see views of the city that you cannot imagine. Luckily, we were there on a pretty clear day, so the kids (total crazies) were laying face down on The Ledges looking down at the streets far far below us.
I was sweating just watching them do this. And I was watching from afar – I was standing back about 4 feet from the actual Ledge – being on the Skydeck was plenty for me.
So…when you reach the top, don’t worry… You don’t have to take your own pictures. There is an official photographer up there with a pretty elaborate set up. All you have to do is be brave enough to walk out onto the ledge. Which I wasn’t! As we got up to the front of the line to have this picture taken (felt like I had to for my kids), I began to break out into a terrible sweat.
The woman taking the pictures asked me if I was okay, as my sister stood back and laughed at me. I told her I was fine, but that I was deathly afraid of heights. So…she placed my kids out on the ledge, and when she was ready for me, I backed out onto the ledge with my eyes closed!
I know…I’m a total nerd. When the photographer was ready to take the picture, she said “Okay…open your eyes and look up.” And boom…I was done. I had taken the token tourist picture at the top of The Willis Tower!
Larry Gets Lost In Chicago…
If you are planning a trip to Chicago, especially with your kids, I highly recommend Larry Gets Lost in Chicago. The cute little story is summarized on Amazon. It says everyone’s favorite wandering pooch blows through the Windy City with his owner Pete and Pete’s family.
After exploring the Magnificent Mile and scarfing down hot dogs at Navy Pier, the family boards a train at the railway station, losing sight of Larry when the hungry pup pursues a tasty snack… oh no! Will they ever be reunited?
While Larry and his family set out to find each other, learn about Chicago’s landmarks and cultural attractions including the Art Institute, Wrigley Field, Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).
Filled with bright colors and retro illustrations, this book will enchant young readers as they explore another bustling metropolitan center with the precocious little Larry.
You can read more about our adventures in Chicago (with my sister) in my article titled Getting Lost in Chicago. It talks more about our trip, some of the cool things we saw, and it also talks about some of the other Larry Gets Lost books. If you’ve been to Chicago, and there are some things we should definitely see, please let me know. We will be going back.
If you’d like to read more about this crazy Ledge on the Skydeck, you can visit their Skydeck Chicago Website. You can read all about it, watch some videos, and even buy some tickets on line. Can’t wait to hear all about your experience!
Have fun when you visit! And be sure to check out The Willis Tower while you are there. It is well worth a stop. Hopefully, you will be much braver than I was. If so, try to get some better pictures than the ones I got! Just don’t look down! Until next time…
These pics below in the image gallery were sent out in an email to my family to show them some of the fun things we did while in Chicago. I hope you enjoy them! On this day, we went to Willis Tower and stood on clear glass (TOTALLY SCARY), we went to the Shedd Aquarium, rode in our first Taxi (Zach felt carsick), saw the Crown Fountains, and The Bean! Lots of fun!!!