1,353 Feet in the Air

1,353 Feet in the Air

Blog Post 49 - Photo 1

At 108 stories tall and grandly poised in the heart of Chicago, the Willis Tower held the title of the world’s tallest building for nearly 25 years after its completion in 1973. The Skydeck Chicago, on the 103rd floor, remains the highest observation deck in the U.S. On Friday, I become one of the 1.5 million travelers who visit the Skydeck each year.

The Ledge, comprised of glass boxes that extend about four feet beyond the building, is definitely not for the fainthearted, nor for individuals with the slightest fear of heights. One glance at the 1,353-foot vertical view, straight down through the glass floor can have your heart racing. The creation of The Ledge was inspired by the hundreds of forehead prints tourists left on the windows each week as they tried to catch a glimpse of the city below. The engineers and designers of The Ledge worked hard to create a near-invisible support system by eliminating all steel structural elements of the boxes. Interestingly, the transparent viewing platforms were designed to be retractable, apparently for ease of cleaning and maintenance.

On a clear day, visitors can enjoy an unobstructed, breathtaking view of the entire city and can see the states of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. However, for the sake of pictures and lighting, a cloudy day creates surprisingly perfect conditions for photos without any awkward shadows or glares from the glass. Insider’s tip: To avoid the otherwise constant crowd, capitalize on statistical data and go in the afternoon, several hours before sunset, when there are the least number of people.

Despite being guffawed by locals as part of the garish tourism scene, visiting the Skydeck is such a unique experience that going once is a must for anyone living in Chicago. As I check “Skydeck” off on my list of signature Chicago sights to see, I am eagerly looking forward to continuing my quest to take advantage of the myriad sights, tastes and adventures this fabulous city has to offer.


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