By Chris6d – Wikimedia

Top 8 Astonishing Facts about the Willis Towers in Chicago


The city of Chicago is among the larger cities of the United States.  It is also one of the leading cities when it comes to business.

One of the most recognized skylines in the United States is Chicago city. It has some of the tallest buildings in the United States and the world.

The most recognized buildings in the Chicago skyline are The Willis Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, Aon Centre and the John Hancock Centre.

One of the buildings is Willis Tower which was once the tallest buildings in the world. Between 1978 and 1998, it was the tallest building in the world.

It has 108 stories. There is a penthouse on the 109th floor. Construction work was completed in 1974.

If you would love to get a panoramic view of the city, then head to the Willis Tower and get mesmerized at the observation deck. There is more to this building, check out the top 8 facts below.  

1. It is the 2nd tallest building

By I, Daniel Schwen – Wikimedia

Today, Willis Tower is the second tallest building in the United States. It is also the twelfth-tallest building in the world.

The Willis Tower has 110 floors and it is 1450 feet high. Others believe it is the third tallest after World Trade Centre and Central Park Tower.

Until 2009, this was the last building in America to hold the title of the world’s tallest. It held the title of the tallest building in the world for 25 years straight.

Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur have taller spires compared to Willis Tower.  The spires made it taller than Willis Tower.

2. The Willis Towers was designed by Fazlur Rahman Khan

By Luthador – Wikimedia

Willis Tower is the prized design of Fazlur Rahman Khan, an American architect. He worked with Bruce Graham to design this building that was inspired by a packet of cigarettes. 

The tower is made up of nine square tube structures that differ in height. Fazlur used the Tube System that is used in most skyscrapers.

3. It was not always known as Willis Towers

The building was known as the Sears Tower from 1973 when construction work was completed. In 1994, Sears sold the building and its naming rights expired in 2003.

The name was changed to Willis Tower in 2009 when a London based company leased it thereby earning the naming rights. 

Many locals have however not adapted to the new name and still call the building Sears tower.

The naming right is valid for 15 years and could be changed to a different one or maintain the same name.

4. The observation deck offers the best panoramic views of Chicago

By Tim Trad timtrad – Wikimedia

The Willis Tower observation deck was opened on June 22, 1974. It is located on the 103rd floor at an elevation of 1,353 feet.

This is one of the highest observation decks in the United States. It is a famous tourist attraction in Chicago.

Once on the deck, you can experience the building sway in wind, see beyond lake Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana on a clear day.

The elevators are fast, it takes about a minute to the 100th floor. One can feel the pressure change as the elevator ascends.

About 1.7 million people visit the Willis Tower annually. There is a second observation deck on the 99th floor 

It is a close competition to the John Hancock centre which is 323 feet shorter.    

5. This building has been featured in several movies

Being one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the United States, it has been featured in several films, TV series, and video games.

In the 2014 film Divergent, the building was featured in a Future Chicago as an abandoned and decayed building.

The Transformers shows the Willis Tower several times during the battle that takes place in the city. It also shows two characters trying to escape from the roof of the building.

6. A renovation of the building brought a new ledge

By Steveboerger – Wikimedia

When the Skydeck was renovated, a new ledge was built too. It is made up of a series of windows that extend from the building.

You can see the streets below from the glass laminated floors. The ledge was inspired by the many tourists pressing their heads on the glass to look down on the streets of the city.

It is made of three layers of half-inch thick glass laminated into one seamless unit. They retract into the building for easy cleaning and maintenance.

7. There was a court injunction to stop the construction of the building

A court injunction was signed to stop the construction of the building from exceeding 67 floors. This was done to prevent interruption of Television reception.

 The first suit was filed in 1972 and a second one that same year on March 28 by the villages of Skokie, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois. 

Sears won the case and construction of the building continued.

8. Someone climbed the building to create awareness

Dan Goodwin, wearing a homemade Spider-Man suit and suction cups, made a successful ascent of the tower. Chicago fire department was on site in case anything went wrong.

This was in 1985, it took him seven hours to climb the tower. Dan not only had a record for having been to the top of the tower, but also a police record for trespassing.

 His reason for taking the risk was to create awareness of the loopholes in the rescue and firefighting techniques in high rescue buildings.

He was released shortly after his arrest.