Chicago, IL – Sears Tower: New Glass ‘ledges’ Lead To High Anxiety

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     Kids gaze down from The Ledge at the Sears Tower in Chicago. This enclosed glass ledge juts out from the 103rd floor of Sears Tower, which is the tallest building in the Western Hempisphere. (Tribune photo by Josa M. Osorio July 1, 2009)Chicago, IL – Visitors to the Sears Tower’s new glass balconies all seem to agree: The first step is the hardest.

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    The balconies are suspended 1,353 feet in the air and jut out four feet from the building’s 103rd floor Skydeck. Their transparent walls, floor and ceiling leave visitors with the impression they’re floating over the city.

    “It’s like walking on ice,” said Margaret Kemp, of Bishop, Calif., who said her heart was still pounding even after stepping away from the balcony. “That first step you take — ‘am I going down?'”

    Kemp was among the visitors who got a sneak preview of the balconies Wednesday. “The Ledge,” as the balconies have been nicknamed, open to the public Thursday. Visitors are treated to unobstructed views of Chicago from the building’s west side and a heart-stopping vista of the street and Chicago River below — for those brave enough to look straight down.
    Kids look through the glass floor of The Ledge, a five-sided glass box 1,353 feet (412 meters) above the street in Chicago July 1, 2009. The Ledge is part of Skydeck Chicago on the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower. It opens to the public on July 2.
    John Huston, one of the property owners of the Sears Tower, even admitted to getting “a little queasy” the first time he ventured out. But 30 or 40 trips later, he’s got the hang of it.

    “The Sears Tower has always been about superlatives — tallest, largest, most iconic,” he said. “Today is also about superlatives. Today, we present you with ‘the Ledge,’ the world’s most awesome view, the world’s most precipitous view, the view with the most wow in the world.”

    The balconies can hold five tons, and the glass is an inch-and-a-half thick, officials said. Sears Tower officials have said the inspiration for the balconies came from the hundreds of forehead prints visitors left behind on Skydeck windows every week. Now, staff will have a new glass surface to clean: floors.

    “It’s very scary, but at the same time it’s very cool,” said Chanti Lawrence of Atlanta, adding that she’s made her first step toward overcoming her fear of heights.

    Adam Kane, 10, of Alton, Ill., rushed to the ledge with his friends and siblings, and they each eagerly pressed their faces to the glass bottom.

    “Look at all those tiny things that are usually huge,” Adam said.

    The balconies are just one of the big changes coming to the Sears Tower. The building’s name will change to Willis Tower later this summer. Last week, officials announced a 5-year, $350 million green renovation complete with wind turbines, roof gardens and solar panels.

    With the ledge, visitors like Kemp said the nation’s tallest building has succeeded in creating something they’ve never seen before.

    “I had to live 70 years for a thrill like this,” she said.


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    17 Comments
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    A
    A
    15 years ago

    Just looking at the pictures has set off my acrophobia.

    The Truth
    The Truth
    15 years ago

    My heart is pounding just looking at it!
    I cant wait to book my ticket to Chicago!

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    15 years ago

    I’m man enough to admit it . I couldnt do it.
    And if you think this one is bad , try the glass walkway at the Grand Canyon..

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    15 years ago

    bldg is or was recently owned by Jews who support Torah causes – Chetrit and Moinian families

    Yehudala
    Yehudala
    15 years ago

    When I was a kid maybe (don’t know of the consequence ) but me at 20 no way!

    2frum4U
    2frum4U
    15 years ago

    people that live in glass houses,

    should get dressed in the basement

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    15 years ago

    that looks terrifying

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    15 years ago

    I went to the CN Tower in Toronto once and walked on the glass floor there – it’s probably about the same height. Once is plenty!

    the money
    the money
    15 years ago

    how much does it cost to get in?

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    15 years ago

    this looks worse than cn towers…anyway Chicago is boring place therefore im happy they added this attraction……anyone got any other suggestion??? i might be visiting chi-town in a few weeks

    Mendel
    Mendel
    15 years ago

    Don’t forget to visit MetroKlub in the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro. It is the only kosher restaurant downtown and about 10 blocks from the Sears tower. I think it is only opened for lunch from 11-3 on Monday thru Thursday though.

    Rochel
    Rochel
    15 years ago

    just looking at the Sears Tower from the ground is scary, because you know that if it breaks you have no chance to survive, OMG, I think I’d have a heart attack for being suspended in the air like this