The Sears Tower and The Sears Tower Skydeck

The Sears Tower, a monumental $150 million architectural feat, was designed by architect Bruce Graham in 1970 and completed in 1973. With two twin towers, it stands 1,450 — 1,730 feet high, including the main roof and the roof of the elevator penthouse, the highest that was allowed by the FAA at the time. Rising above the city of Chicago for 110 stories, the Sears Tower is the tallest building in North America, the 3rd tallest skyscraper in the world, and a major tourist attraction. The Tower’s unique construction of 76,000 tons of bundled steel tubes, two million cubic feet of concrete, and 16,000 bronze-tinted and black aluminum windows weighs 222,500 tons. Supported by 114 embedded rock chambers, it covers two city blocks and contains 101 acres of office and commercial space. In addition, the Sears Tower has a 106-cab combination double decker and single elevator system with sky lobbies that divide the building into three separate areas with two domed entrances. The elevators are equipped with 50-inch flat screen monitors that project views of the earth taken by NASA from the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Approximately 25,000 tourists visit this attraction every day, several million a year. One interesting side note: a special event was held in 2006, the 2,109-stair climb to raise money for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research foundation.

The Skydeck observatory at 1,353 feet on the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower, a few seconds’ elevator ride to the top, offers a spectacular view through high-powered telescopes of the city, Lake Michigan, and a 40 to 50 mile panorama of four states, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. In addition, the Skydeck houses murals and interactive displays of Chicago history, famous writers and people, attractions, and memorable events. Booths with touch computers provide explanations of interesting facts in English, French, German, Polish, and Spanish and a Knee-high display of sports and history for kids extends around the entire deck. In the event of inclement weather, the 99th floor is used instead.

Hours: Skydeck is open 365 days a year. May — September, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., October — April, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Admission: Adults $11.95, seniors $9.95, youth ages 3-11 $8.50, children under 3 Free.

Accessible by public transportation. Nearby parking garage rates: $18.00 – 1 hour, $26.00 – 6 hours, $28.00 – 6-12 hours.
Several restaurants are located in the Sears Tower and three gift shops are at the exit to the Skydeck.

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