The Sears/Willis Tower: A Mainstay of the Chicago Skyline Since 1973

The Sears tower (now known as the Willis tower)

The Sears tower (now known as the Willis tower)

Fun Facts About the Sears Tower/Willis Tower


  • The tower was originally named after Sears, Roebuck and Co., an American chain of Department Stores which was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA. In 1993, Sears sold the building after moving to the suburbs.

    Sears Department Store

    Sears Department Store

  • The building’s name was left unchanged until July 16, 2009, when it was renamed Willis Tower for one of the skyscraper’s tenants, a British insurance firm. The move was met with local opposition, however, and some even started online petitions to protest the name change.
  • The tower was designed by Fazlur Kahn and Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM)
  • At the time the Sears tower was constructed in 1973, it was the world’s tallest building, eclipsing New York’s twin-towered World Trade Center by 25 meters (83 ft).
  • It would keep the title of tallest building in the world until the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia were constructed in 1997.
  • There was much discussion on whether the Petronas towers are actually taller than the Sears tower as the height of the antennas on the Petronas towers are included in the total height, while the height of the antennas are not included in the height calculation of the Sears tower as they are not considered an actual part of the building. With the construction of the 508m high Taipei 101 tower in 2004 this discussion became irrelevant.
  • The Sears tower is still the tallest skyscraper in Chicago, exceeding the height of the number 2, the Trump International Hotel and Tower by 27 meters (89 ft) and the Aon Centerby 96 meters (315 ft).
  • The Sears tower is also still the tallest building in North America.
  • The building consists of nine framed tubes, which are actually nine skyscrapers on themselves taken together into one building.
  • The nine tubes all reach forty-nine stories. At that point, two tubes end. The other rise up to the sixty-fifth floor. From the sixty-sixth to the ninetieth floor, the tower has the shape of a crucifix. Two tubes, creating a rectangular, reach the full height of 442 meters (1451ft).
  • Originally, the plan included no less than 15 tubes, but when the planned hotel was
    taken out of the project, only nine tubes were used in the final designs.
  • The Sears Tower covers two city blocks and has 101 acres (4.4 million square feet) of space.
  • The foundation and the floor slabs have some 2,000,000 cubic feet of concrete – enough to build an eight-lane highway 5 miles long.
  • A 106-cab elevator system (including 16 double decker elevators) divides the Tower into three separate zones with skylobbies in between.
  • The Sears Tower’s observation deck – known as the skydeck – is one of Chicago’s most popular attractions. At 412 meters (1,353 ft), it’s Chicago’s highest observatory, besting the John Hancock Center’s by 98 meters (323 ft) .
  • The most spectacular attraction at the skydeck is ‘the ledge’, a glass balcony extending 4.3 ft where you can look straight down. It will make most people feel uneasy at first but the balconies offer spectacular views over Wacker Drive and the Chicago River.

Special thanks to  http://www.aviewoncities.com and www.about.com

The Skydeck

The Skydeck

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1 Comment

Filed under Historical Events & Figures, Travel

One response to “The Sears/Willis Tower: A Mainstay of the Chicago Skyline Since 1973

  1. Pingback: The Sears/Willis Tower: A Mainstay of the Chicago Skyline Since 1973 (via Facts ‘O Fun) « Psilomelane

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