That first step out onto the Skydeck Chicago Ledge is a bit unnerving. The glass juts out over four feet from the 103 floor of the highest observation deck in the United States. At 1,353 feet up it’s surreal to look straight down.
Our adventure actually started out on the ground level of the Willis Tower. I was a teenager when it (then the Sears Tower) was built, and it was exciting to go up into the then tallest building in the world. For me, it defines Chicago’s skyline and is a must-see on my rare visits to the city of my birth.
The ground floor is filled with interesting exhibits reminding us that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, of people, and of community. It highlights the city’s sports, culture, and architectural heritage with fun interactive displays allowing us to get a different perspective on the tower. One of my favorites was the ability to measure the tower using Micheal Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, or other unusual measurement standards. In case you are wondering, the Willis Tower is 262 Micheal Jordan’s tall.
It took only 60 seconds to get from the ground to the 103 floor. From that height, the views are up to 50 miles and can include up to four states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin). Skydeck Chicago attracts more than 1 million visitors annually.
Following the success of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, there were hundreds of forehead prints left on the windows every week. This, plus a Vegas walkout inspired the new Skydeck Chicago General Manager to create the Ledge. It took a year of engineering and six months of construction to create the four boxes. Each is designed with a 1.5-inch glass floor fully tempered to hold a five-ton load.
It not only draws locals and tourists but also a bit of romance. There have been over 800 marriage proposals and 50 weddings.
- Skydeck Chicago is the observation deck of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). The Ledge refers to the glass boxes that cantilever from the building.
- Willis Tower is located at 233 South Wacker Drive in Chicago, Illinois.
- The Skydeck Chicago is open every day with seasonal hours: April through September from 9 am-10 pm and October through March from 10 am-8 pm.
- General admission tickets will get you to the top and out on the Ledge, purchase Fast Pass tickets to avoid the queue, or have a meal out on the Ledge.
- Now the second tallest building in the USA, the Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world for over 25 years.
- You can purchase “Save Ferris” t-shirts amongst the Skydeck souvenirs available at the gift shop.
- While I don’t always get the professional photos, the ones taken on the Ledge are really fun. Shot from an angle high up, they really capture the atmosphere.
- If you still want more information check out their official website here.
Have you been to Skydeck Chicago? Have you walked out on the Ledge? Would you?
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Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary entry and a private tour, however, the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.