How many floors is the Willis Tower?

The Skydeck in the Willis Tower - the "Ledge"

The Wills Tower in Chicago was built in the early 1970s and is one of the tallest buildings in the world. At 537.3 meters, it is the undisputed tallest building in Chicago and the second tallest in the United States.

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On the list of the tallest buildings in the world, Willis Tower was number 10 in 2015. The 108-story high-rise was commissioned by the Sears Group. That is why it was known as the "Sears Tower" for a long time. When the London insurance company Willis Group rented several floors as office space in 2009, they bought the naming rights to the skyscraper and renamed it Willis Tower. After the building had been known as the Sears Tower for decades, the reaction in Chicago to the renaming was appalled. The skyscraper is officially called the Willis Tower today, but in Chicago it is still called the Sears Tower.

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The Skydeck - for the perfect view

There is a visitor platform on the 103rd floor: the Skydeck. On a clear day, the view extends 80 kilometers over the huge Lake Michigan. If you are lucky, you can see the four surrounding states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan from the observation deck. Visitors reach the viewing platform via two elevators, which are among the fastest in the world. They reach a speed of 480 meters per minute. The trip to the 103rd floor therefore only takes 45 seconds. The visitor is greeted with a two-meter-high number "103" when he gets out of the pull-out.

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The "Ledge" - view from the glass balcony

After the name change in 2009, the Willis company had glass balconies added to the exterior of the house. Anyone who dares to venture out has a direct view through the floor of the sidewalk, which is 412 meters lower. It is the highest observation deck in the USA. In 2013 one of the glass shelves got slight cracks and was replaced immediately. The balconies are called "ledges" like strips, because they are attached to the house like a narrow glass strip. The balconies are made of glass all around, the visitor is not standing in the open, but is in a glass box that protects against winds and dangerous situations.

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Breathtaking view

Even on a cloudy day that does not allow a distant view, the visitor can see the nearby lake and all of Chicago's important buildings. The view is breathtaking. In front of it, the Field Museum and the sports stadium are clearly visible. To the east you can see the Aon Center, Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the famous Buckingham Fountain, a well-known fountain in Chicago. If you look north, you'll see Chicago's old town and the city's oldest skyscrapers. In the distance, the silhouettes of some of the Wisconsin towns can be seen. To the west, the view extends to the airports and Harpo Studios, which have become world famous thanks to Oprah Winfrey. A Legde shop has posters, t-shirts, glasses, posters and much more to keep the view forever.

Tickets for the Skydeck in the Willis Tower

Visiting the tower and ledge should be well planned. On some days the rush is so great that there are no more tickets directly on site, because around 1.3 million guests visit the tower every year and enjoy the view from the 103rd floor. It is therefore advisable to buy tickets online. The visit costs $ 22 and children under the age of 12 pay $ 14. Practical information material is also offered online that can be downloaded onto a smartphone before visiting.

The perfect time to visit is in the early morning hours, when you can watch the sunrise over the lake from the Legde. The late afternoon hours or the early evening with the sunset are almost as beautiful. In order not to miss the right time, the times of sunrise and sunset should be checked before the visit.

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For special ideas

The Skydesk opens to the public at 9 a.m. every day - but there are also a number of ways to enjoy the fantastic view outside of the normal crowd. The Skydeck administration has come up with a lot for this. For example, you can have breakfast at 7 a.m. in one of the glass balconies. The experience is not cheap - the prices fluctuate between 100 and 130 dollars per person - but is usually booked out many weeks in advance. If you want to have breakfast in the clouds and enjoy the sunrise at the same time, you should start planning at least six months before the desired date.

The same goes for a pizza evening with a view. From Sunday to Tuesday, light Italian tables and chairs are set up in the glass balconies in the evenings. Pizzas are served to Italian music while looking out over the nightly Chicago with its numerous lights.

In the meantime, the 99th floor has also been expanded to a visitor level. Tables for up to 300 guests can be set up in a ballroom. The 99th floor is absolutely in vogue for weddings and special birthdays in Chicago high society.

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Our budget tip for the Skydeck in Chicago

Incidentally, the Skydeck Chicago is included in the ticket price of the CityPASS Chicago, the Explorer Pass and the Go Chicago Card. So be sure to take a look at the comparison of the passes - you can save up to 55%!

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