Illinois Solo Travel USA Mid-West Travels

Seeing Chicago from the Willis Tower’s 103rd floor

The Willis Tower
The Willis Tower (left)

The tallest building in my town is 5 stories. Imagine that. Just 5 floors. You could probably sprint to the top floor in under 2 minutes. The tallest building in Chicago Illinois is 110 floors. Slight difference… and there probably isn’t any sprinting to the top.

Formally known as the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower has stood proudly in the heart of Chicago since the 1970’s. The building took 3 years to complete with the help of around 2000 workers. The building has some impressive statistics: the amount of concrete to make the building could pave an eight-lane, 5 mile (8 km) long highway, 25,000 miles (40233 km) of plumbing fill the building, 1500 miles (2414 km) of electric wiring snakes it’s way around the building and lastly there is 80 miles (128 km) of elevator cable.

The Willis Tower
The Willis Tower formally known as The Sears Tower

Speaking of the elevator, after being squeezed in like a herd of cattle into the elevator, I was “sprinted” to the 103rd floor in just under 2 minutes. Once we arrived to the 103 floor I stepped out into the retail space where I was now standing 1354 feet (412 m) above the street in the 12th tallest building in the world as of 2014.

I took a walk around the Skydeck Market Place, which was filled with classic Chicago foods, trinkets and fellow shoppers. As I was carrying everything in a backpack for this trip I forewent purchasing any souvenirs as to not over-stuff my already over-stuffed backpack. A girl’s gotta have some restraint right?

The Willis Tower
views from The Willis Tower

As it was a clear day, I got a spectacular view of the city, Lake Michigan as well as views to the neighboring states of Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The Willis Tower
The Hancock Tower in the distance

You can also spot fellow tall, but shorter, skyscraper, the John Hancock Tower to the north.

The Willis Tower
The Ledge

After assessing the long line for the Ledge, glass boxes that allow you to stand out over the side of the building, I skipped this activity. Sure it looked like fun but perhaps I had E.S.P as only a few weeks after my visit the floor of one of the Ledges shattered. No one was hurt and according to a representative for the building the shattering happens occasionally and was purposely designed to do so. I don’t know about you but I sure as hell wouldn’t want a glass floor shattering under me while I stood 1354 feet above the ground… even if I didn’t plummet to my death.

The Willis Tower
Views from The Willis Tower

After I took in the views and snapped some photos I got in line for my return back to floor 1. Want to visit the Willis Tower?  They are located at 233 South Wacker Drive. If you are visiting multiple places in Chicago I recommend picking up a Chicago City Pass. You can purchase online or at any of the featured locations. It not only saves you some money (about $93 USD) but some of the attractions it saves you time with a fast pass. I had a city pass and was able to jump in line, saving myself about an hour of waiting.  Anything that saves time I am a huge fan of.

13 replies on “Seeing Chicago from the Willis Tower’s 103rd floor”

I visited here when I was only 15 years old on a school trip! But it was super foggy out when we went so we didn’t get quite the nice view as you! It was still the Sears Tower back then…this was probably in…1997ish? Anyway, great blog post and thanks for the great photos!

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