Willis Tower
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Willis Tower: Tours & Tickets

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5 Architecture Facts About the Willis Tower

For almost 25 years the Willis Tower, more commonly known as Sears Tower, held the title for the tallest building in the U.S. Second place isn’t bad, right? And as the 12th tallest in the world at a height of 1,451 feet, it is Chicago’s most beloved skyscraper.

Commissioning The Building

Commissioning The Building

In order to house their rapidly growing company, Sears commissioned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1969. Architect Bruce Graham and engineer Fazlur Rahman Kahn led.

Advancements in Architecture

Advancements in Architecture

The Willis Tower was the first to ever use a bundled tube structure. Kahn’s design was so revolutionary that it was later used for the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Inspiration

Inspiration

Graham’s design was inspired by a cigarette ad. He demonstrated the concept to a colleague by pulling cigarettes out of a pack to illustrate the 9 tubes at different heights.

How was it Built

How was it Built

Construction began in April of 1971 and was finished by May 1973. Economically efficient for a building its size, the cost to build was $150 million, about $800 million today.

The Skydeck

The Skydeck

Willis Tower’s observation deck is what makes it celebrated. At 1,353 feet, visitors can feel the building sway on a windy day and see over the plains of Illinois on a clear day.

Our insider tips

Where is it

The address of Willis Tower is 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606. Public transportation is easy because it's in such a central location -- off Blue, Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple and Red Lines on the ‘L.

Where to Park

Parking is available at 221 W. Adams, and purchasing a parking card in advance online will get you a discount.

When to Go

Skydeck Chicago is open 365 days a year from 9AM to 10PM April through September and 10AM to 8PM October through March. View at night for the romantic glittering cityscape, by day for the sweeping view of Lake Michigan.

Admission

The basic price for adult admission is $19.50. A variety of ticketing bundles with other Chicago attractions, like a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, are available.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    April - Sept: 9:00AM - 10:00PM |
    Oct - March: 10:00AM - 8:00PM
  • Is it expensive?
    $19.50
  • Will I need a guide?
    Nope, but they are available if you want special insights into the building and its surroundings.
  • How to get there
    Take the L, walk, or drive.
  • Additional information
    As with other spectacular views, the best times to visit the SkyDeck are in the early morning and around sunset.

What people are saying about Willis Tower

Overall rating
4.8 / 5
based on 3,213 reviews

I’m Chicago born and raised. Took this tour with family who came in from out of town. I LOVED this tour. Our tour guide was AWESOME! I learned so much about our city. I’ve taken the Shoreline architecture tours but they weren’t as thorough. This was worth every cent. The views at night are spectacular! I felt safe during the ride during the pandemic

Not being familiar with the downtown area, trying to find a place to park was very hard. Finding the actual site of your boat was another bad experience. The steps were very difficult.....should have been made aware of the 70 steps to go down and then have to climb up.

First time going I defeated enjoyed thee experience maybe next time I’ll plan another cruise on a summer day it was kinda cold over all I enjoyed and will be doing it again

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise Reviewed by

It was very beautiful and relaxing. Very interesting facts about each building that was presented. Props to the instructor for knowing all of that information.

Very fun and filled with history of Chicago and the buildings. Instructor was very knowledgeable. Will do experience again with my children.