if you ever wonder what the view is like at 103 stories high, then check out the skydeck at willis tower. built in 1973 as the former sears headquarters, the willis tower is not for the faint of heart. in fact, the willis tower was considered the world’s tallest building until the taipei 101 towers, with its enormous spire, knocked them out of the number one slot in 2004. with the completion of new york’s one world trade centre, it is currently the second tallest building in the US.
still, that’s hella tall. some other fun facts:
- it is 110 stories high
- it contains 2,000 miles of electric cables
- there are 25,000 miles of piping
- the elevators travel at 1,600 ft per minute
- there are 6 automatic machines to wash its 16,100 window panes (!)
the 103rd floor skydeck offers 360 degree views of chicago, plus there are a series of enclosed glass boxes jutting out from the skydeck, called the ledge, which extends out to four feet and gives you a view straight down to the ground.
if heights make you quesay, you can either gird your loins or find something else to do. i have as much as a rational and healthy fear of heights as the next guy (in the sense that i don’t want to plummet from such a height), but i also wanted to challenge myself and see if i can actually be up that high and look down through the glass floor, without feeling like i want to throw up.
i decided to pull up my big girl pants and willed myself to go out on the skydeck’s ledge. not to say that it was easy peasy, as your rational mind is wrestling with your irrational fears. (in my case, too many years of horror slash disaster movies watched). but i make the tentative steps out onto the ledge, find myself drawing in a quick breath from being overwhelmed by the expansive views, above and below, and come to the realization that i’m just fine.
i’m not one for skyscraper living, but i’m also not stricken by an excessive fear of heights either. there were some people that stepped out onto the ledge, realized they couldn’t handle it and needed someone to pull them in.
my trick after stepping on the ledge? look out to the horizon first, take in the views at eye level, then slowly start looking down. i found that it helps with orienting oneself, and not quite the shock to the system.
and because chicago is awesome, the skydeck at willis tower had its own tribute to ferris bueller’s day off. there a kiosk selling t-shirts, mugs, posters and dvds, as well as, a mat marking the exact spot that ferris, sloane and cameron stood in the movie.
“i think i see my dad.” ha.
i know it’s a complete tourist trap, but i’m glad that i picked the skydeck at willis tower as the last thing to do on my trip. i got there right before the golden hour and stayed until the sun set, getting some great shots.
chicago, you’ve been much fun. i’m glad to have visited.