Willis Tower (Formerly Sears Tower), Chicago

4.5 out of 5 stars 110 Reviews

233 S. Wacker Drive

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  • Willis Tower from Hancock Observatory
    Willis Tower from Hancock Observatory
    by goodfish
  • Willis Tower (Formerly Sears Tower)
    by Skibbe
  • 1450 FEET ABOVE THE STREET..DONT LOOK DOWN !!!
    1450 FEET ABOVE THE STREET..DONT LOOK...
    by DennyP
  • antistar's Profile Photo

    Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)

    by antistar Updated Feb 4, 2014

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Willis Tower, Chicago
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    When it was built, Willis Tower was the tallest skyscraper in the world. It still lays claim to that title, being as its extended radio masts stretch up higher than any other building, but officially the Taipei 101 building has sneaked into the lead. Willis Tower does, however, at 412 m (1,353 ft) up, have the highest observation deck of any other skyscraper, and it remains the tallest skyscraper in the Americas, and the tallest building in the US.

    All those titles are the main reason for visiting Willis Tower. It's not a particularly beautiful building. Its architects came up with its design when looking at a popped packet of cigarettes, and seeing how each cigarette gave the higher cigarettes support. The result was a staggered black monolith that stretches up literally into the clouds. It is a massive building, it was a massive undertaking. It was also a massive failure. Sears built it hoping it would spark a huge demand for real estate, but it never happened.

    Its fame also attracts the crowds. It wasn't a particularly nice day when I went up. In fact it had started to rain just as I entered. Despite this the queues were unbelievable. I was warned of an hour wait just to get into the lift. There were so many people trying to get in that my entire experience of the Willis Tower became one long queue. Even at the observation deck, I made my way around the top taking pictures... while standing in the queue to get out.

    If you want to save some time queuing: book online before you go. This should get you past at least the first queue, for the tickets, but you will still have to queue for the lifts both up and down. It could save you about 15-30 minutes.

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  • GeorgeS74's Profile Photo

    Site See

    by GeorgeS74 Written Nov 8, 2013

    I went to the observation deck I think it was '73-'74, When it was free ! There was quite a bit to look at(w/o my wifes' approval) The Playboy Mansion was quite visible to us(no screens yet), It was really interesting to see all the states 3 I think....................................................... The second time I went was a few years later & was happy to see this place was no longer X rated ! LOL !........ 3rd time I was there they charged, Not necessarily for the Observation deck, But for the elevator ride to get there! When I got there it had become Commercial, everything was 4-sale ! Let's hope the new owners change this trend around! Il.tends to charge for everything! The toll road was supposed to be temporary, BS that didn't & won't happen !
    Please give us somewhere to go that don't cost us an arm or a leg ! Like when WE were young !

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    Sears / Willis Tower

    by WulfstanTraveller Written Oct 14, 2013
    Chicago Board of Trade seen from Willis Tower
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    I'll always know this as the Sear Tower but it is now the Willis Tower, the tallest building in Chicago and, since it was built up through 2013 the tallest building in the US and North America. However, a new building in New York City is, as of October 2013, nearing completion and is now surpassing it. In any case, it is still impressive and the Sky Deck at the top both fabulous for the views and famous for its height as well as its Skyboxes, boxes of glass projecting off the side over the street, to afford incredible views. This is one of the most-see sights in the city, and for us, in fact, in the US, at least as right now.

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    GO TO THE TOP OF THE WILLIS TOWER

    by DennyP Written Sep 15, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    THE WILLIS TOWER FROM THE STREET
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    CHICAGO
    The Willis Tower " formerly the Sears Tower is definately the most prominent building on the Chicago Skyline.. standing at 1450 feet high ( 442 meters ) This is the tallest building in the whole of the country..To be a street level and look up at this building is awesome to say the least. The Chicago skyline would have to be one of the most impressive skylines in the world and is noted for its revolutionary styles of architecture by many of the worlds famous architects works built and displayed here. This partIcular structure stands out above all ..

    A visit to this building was high on my list of "to do's" while in Chicago and go to the skydeck at the top. I am told that the views from the skydeck are truly awe inspiring. Be prepared for a long wait though before you get to the top as there was hundreds of visitors on the day I was there ..probably more than usual ..it was mid summer...and a very clear day but was told that the huge crowds were normal..So its queues and security checks ..pay entry fee..and more queues.. The lift (elevator ) ride to the top is amazingly fast and I must say that I was quite surprised how fast it was ...arriving at the top there is a lot of room for the crowds of visitors to view the city and as it was a clear day the visability was to the horizon..There were so many places to take photographs from all sides..One of the main attraction was the glass box that you can walk into that juts out of the side of the building...not good if you suffer from vertigo...The different city views to be seen from this skydeck are absolutly outstanding. There are many informative signs and posters on the walls of the skydeck with historical information on Chicago..There is also a souvenir shop that sells everything that you can imagine.
    This was a very interesting place to visit.I was in no way dissapointed..

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  • WBeall's Profile Photo

    Such a pretty view

    by WBeall Written Jan 4, 2013
    Steven and I on the ledge at the Skydeck Chicago
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    The Sears tower was so much fun! The only thing we were having problems with were the hundreds of other people bumping you or walking in front of you as you are taking a picture. They have these glass window boxes where you can walk out on them and look down (Super Scary) and everytime you step in one to take a quick photo a tourist would jump in with you and walk around. It was a tad bit irritating so if you are anything like me try your hardest to go while its slow.

    Admission:
    Adult is $18
    Child is $12

    But so worth it!

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  • grayfo's Profile Photo

    The only way is up

    by grayfo Updated Oct 1, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 110 stories high - in fact it was the world’s tallest for 24 years – is Willis Tower (it used to be called Sears Tower but changed its name in 2009 when a London-based insurance broker obtained the naming rights. Not a popular move, by most accounts). Here you can shoot up 103 floors or 1,451ft high in elevators that are among the fastest in the world operating as fast as 1,600 feet per minute up to the skydeck that has recently had transparent ledges bolted on that extend 4ft outside the deck, from here you can see the ground beneath your feet. Four states are visible from the Skydeck; Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

    See My Travelogue for more photos from my visit.

    April 1 to September 30
    9:00 am to 10:00 pm

    October 1 to March 31
    10:00 am to 8:00 pm

    Adults: $15.95
    Children (Ages 3-11): $11.00

    email skydeckinfo@trz.com

    February 2005

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  • Three great views for the price of one

    by FuroraCeltica Written Aug 3, 2012

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    view from Willis Tower at sunset
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    When is the best time to visit the observation deck on the 103rd floor of the Willis tower? The best time is late afternoon, exactly when depends on the time of year. Then stay up there for a couple of hours. That way, you get to see the spectacular view in daytime, sunset and night time. It really is amazing, and saves you having to make three different trips. To make sure you can make it in in time to see all three views, pre-book a ticket, so you can skip the lines and go straight in at late afternoon! you wouldn't want to miss one of the three views because you are in line!

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Skydeck/The Ledge

    by goodfish Updated Feb 15, 2012

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    Oh yeah, every city has that big tall thing. For a chunk of your 401 they'll herd you into an elevator with a perky attendant and a kajillion other bodies you'll be fighting with for window space. For another chunk of your 401 they'll take your picture, and you'll hand over anything left for tchotchkes you'll hate the minute you get home.

    Yep, this is one of those places but with an interesting twist: you can take in Chicago's skyline from a glass-floored cube that extends 4 feet outside the building and 1,353 feet above the ground: a real bird's-eye view. Big deal, you say? I did too - until it was my turn in the thing and my knees rattled so badly I almost had to crawl.

    Skydeck/The Ledge is on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower and was an option our CityPASSes. A line-skipping ticket on its own was a staggering $35 - nearly 1/2 the cost of the 5-attraction pass - so they really paid off here. It goes without saying that the best time to do this is on a clear day, and the sunset hour is supposed to be impressive.

    My third photo is from the Hancock Observatory with the Willis Tower in the distance.

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  • LoriPori's Profile Photo

    SEARS TOWER

    by LoriPori Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Sears Tower at Night
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    No trip to Chicago is complete without a trip to the top of the SEARS TOWER Skydeck, one of the highest observation decks of any building in the world. The Tower is 110 stories high and the observation deck with spectacular views of Chicago, is located on the 103 floor.
    Prices as of August, 2006
    Adult 12 - 64 $11.95
    Seniors 65 + $9.95
    Youth 3 - 11 $8.50
    Children under 3 Free

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  • Sears Tower

    by TRAVELCHICK29 Updated Apr 4, 2011
    The Sears TOwer

    standing at 1450 feet and 110 stories high, it was named the world's tallest building until 1996 when it was surpassed by the Petronas building in Kuala Lumpur. But it still holds 3 of the world's tallest title: tallest building including the antenna, highest occuppied floor, and highest roof. On a clear day from the Skydeck observatory (103rd floor) one can see the states of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The Sears Tower is so high, a phone call from the top to ground floor is considered long distance! ticket prices $9.95 each, includes a 30minute show about Chicago, its humble beginnings and how it came to be one of the most successful cities in the world.

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  • view from the Skyeck

    by TRAVELCHICK29 Updated Apr 4, 2011
    view from the skydeck

    The skydeck is at the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower. This is where visitors go to experience the bird's eye view of Chicago and its neighboring states namely Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Tickets are $9.95 for adults with discounts for kids and seniors. Children below 3 years go for free. The skydeck also features exhibits about what makes Chicago... Chicago

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Dominating the Chicago Skyline

    by machomikemd Written Nov 6, 2010
    the tower
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    The Willis Tower (formerly Sears tower) is the dominating buidling of the Chicago Skyline with the Hancock Tower being a close second. Completed May 3, 1973, Willis Tower rises to a height to 1,450 feet and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Chicago skyline and in the world. The building held the record for the world’s tallest building for 25 years until the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia were built in 1998. The Willis Tower is the tallest building in the United States and the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the world, as well as the fifth tallest building in the world to the roof. Although Sears' naming rights expired in 2003, the building continued to be called Sears Tower for several years. In March 2009 London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., agreed to lease a portion of the building and obtained the building's naming rights. On July 16, 2009, the building was officially renamed Willis Tower.

    The building is a mixed used type and has apartment spaces but people mainly flock to this icon due to the viewing deck located at the 103th floor called the Skydeck, opened on June 22, 1974. Located on the 103rd floor of the tower, it is 1,353 feet (412 m) above ground and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Chicago. You canexperience how the building sways on a windy day. They can see far over the plains of Illinois and across Lake Michigan to Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin on a clear day. Elevators take tourists to the top in about 60 seconds. The Skydeck competes with the John Hancock Center's observation floor a mile and a half away, which is 323 feet (98 m) lower (however I find Hancock Tower Better since it has a restaurant and a lounge called Signature room which provides a romantic ambiance). Some 1.3 million tourists visit the Skydeck annually and the costs of admission is:

    for Fast Pass: $30.00
    and for the long line to the elevators:

    Open 365 Days a YearApril through September from 9am-10pm
    October through March from 10am-8pm

    Adult - Ages 12 and up $15.95
    Youth - Ages 3 to 11 $11.00

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  • Rabbityama's Profile Photo

    Sears Tower

    by Rabbityama Written Jul 8, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    View from the Sears Tower
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    Although the name has officially been changed to "Willis Tower", everyone still calls it the Sears Tower. Even the souvenirs you purchase within the tower say "Sears Tower".

    The Sears Tower is the tallest building in Chicago and was once the tallest structure in the world. Although it is no longer the tallest, it still remains among the tallest. Like most towers, it offers a great view of the city. Along with the usual windows, the Sears Tower also has a skydeck with glass protruding from the building, allowing you to walk out over the city and see directly below where you are standing!

    In my opinion, the best time to arrive is in the evening. There are virtually no lines to wait in, and you are treated to a beautiful view of Chicago with all the buildings lit up!

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  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo

    Let's CAll It Sears Tower-Still

    by BruceDunning Updated Apr 17, 2010

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    Panoramic view in skyline-white spire antenae
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    All I can remember are the times I parked in the garage and got to the top of the tower; and it always will be Sears tower to me. This is a nice building to go inside-we did not because of parking problems and traffic a mess. Built in 1973, it encompasses 1450 feet without antenna, but 1729 included, and stands 110 stories; having 3.8 million SF. I used to park in the garage down under, which was convenient for the bank job I had then. Now rates are horrendous $25-40 a day.

    To get to the skyview overlook go up the elevator. Cost is $16 regular, of $32 for fast track get to head of line, or use city pass, costing $69 for 1 days and $95 2 days for adults.

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  • tim07's Profile Photo

    Sears Tower

    by tim07 Updated Mar 14, 2010
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    Completed on May 3rd 1973 and at a height of 1450 feet, this 110 storey tower is a Chicago icon. It held the record for the world's tallest building until 1998. The building is home to offices and retailers.

    Its main attraction though is the Skydeck on floor 103. On a clear day you can see up to 50 miles from here, this includes 4 different states. You also get a fantastic view of Chicago.

    Prices & opening times can be found on the web link.

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Comments (1)

  • Jan 15, 2013 at 1:05 AM

    I’ve on the Sears Tower on Saint Patrick’s Day. I was kind of surprised to see a green Chicago River. I didn’t know that this is a long tradition for Chicago. Crazy folks! :D

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