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
- 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 Brooklyn Bridge - an iconic landmark in human ingenuity
Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge
- In 1802, NY State Legislature received petition to construct a bridge over the East River as an alternative to the many ferry services that operated at the time, including the Nassau, part of the Fulton Ferry Line (named after Robert Fulton).
- The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge started in 1869 and took 14 years to complete.
- In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant, signed the bill to approve the Brooklyn Bridge Plan.
- The Organization chartered to build the Brooklyn Bridge was named The New York Bridge Company.
- At the time many saw the construction of such a large bridge as a folly.
Wilhelm Hildenbrand and John Augustus Roebling
- The driving force behind the whole project, John Augustus Roebling, was a German immigrant who had worked for the Prussian government as a bridge and road builder. He launched the idea of building a bridge across the East River after he had taken a ferry across the river that ended up stuck in the ice.
- Assisting Roebling with the bridge design was architect Wilhelm Hildenbrand.
- Roebling would never get to see the bridge he had designed: on July 6th, 1869, at the Brooklyn Fulton Ferry Slip, his foot was crushed while determining the exact location of the Brooklyn-side bridge tower. Although his toes were amputated, he would die 16 days later from Lockjaw (an infection) at the age of 63.
- Roebling wasn’t the only one to lose his life during the construction: 20 of the in total 600 workers died while working on the bridge.
- The son of John Roebling, Washington Roebling, took over the leadership of the project but he suffered from the caisson-disease as a result of the works on the pillars of the bridge and was on his deathbed during the inauguration.
- On opening day, May 24, 1883, about 150,000 people crossed the bridge.
- The opening day ceremony was presided over by President Chester A. Arthur and Governor Grover Cleveland.
- Roebling had not just made a bridge that looked incredibly strong, it also turned out to be just as strong in reality. A mesh of cables of which the four strongest have a diameter of 11 inches are anchored in the ground and keep the bridge from collapsing. But even if the four strongest cables would snap, the other cables would still be sufficient to support the bridge. Roebling even claimed that the bridge wouldn’t collapse without any cables, it would merely sag.
- But even after the inauguration, many New Yorkers were not convinced the bridge was safe. So as to prove the doubters wrong, P.T. Barnum led a caravan of circus animals – including a herd of 21 elephants – across the bridge in 1884.
- Initial Bridge Toll – 1 cent on Opening Day; 3 cents thereafter
- The Brooklyn Bridge ranks as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and remains one of New York’s most popular and well known landmarks.
- The impressive bridge spans the East river between Brooklyn and Manhattan and stretches for a length of 5989 ft, about 1.8 km. The length between the large towers is 1595.5 ft (486 meter). This made the Brooklyn bridge the world’s largest suspension bridge at the time.
- The most noticeable feature of the Brooklyn Bridge are the two masonry towers to which the many cables are attached. The towers with large gothic arches are 276 ft tall (84 meter), at the time making them some of the tallest landmarks in New York.
- Roebling claimed that the monumental towers would make the bridge a historic monument. He was proven right when the bridge officially became a national monument in 1964.
- An elevated pedestrian path not only gives you the opportunity to cross the river without being bothered by the traffic that rushes past a level below, but it also offers a great view of the bridge’s towers as well as downtown Manhattan’s skyline. The views alone attract millions of visitors to this bridge each year.
- Brooklyn, founded by Dutch settlers in 1636, was an independent city until 1898 when Brooklyn decided in a close vote to become a borough of New York. At that time the Brooklyn bridge had connected the two cities for 15 years.