Willis Tower

Enter your dates to find available activities

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

    1. 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

    2. 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

    3. 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

    4. 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

    5. 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.

Planning Your Visit

  • 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

4.6 / 5

based on 4,954 reviews

Meet up location was easy to find and as advertised. Staff was courteous. The boat itself was clean and had an open bar for beverages and drinks. The tour guide Kevin was phenomenal! He made the tour very fun and provided a wealth of information regarding Chicago’s architecture. Kevin was very knowledgeable about the subject and seemed passionate about his work, which is always a bonus. Overall, I would highly recommend this tour for anyone wanting to learn Chicago history and just have a good time with awesome people. Definitely doing tt his tour again on my next visit!

The boat was very nice and our guide, Ashley was incredible. She knew so much about all the buildings and she was very open to answering questions. She made the experience very memorable. The boat tour itself was my favorite activity during my whole trip to Chicago. The architecture is gorgeous and the water is so calming. I will definitely be coming back to Chicago and I’ll do this same boat tour!

Very informative and entertaining tour. We went on this tour with our 14 year old son and 12 year old daughter. Everyone has a good time and came away remembering what they heard on the tour which reveals that it kept their attention.

This is a perfect activity for a warm spring day in the city. Our tour guide was funny, entertaining, and informative. I have lived in Chicago my whole life and learned so many new things on this tour.

Well worth the price. our guide was knowledgeable regarding architecture history. Good information! makes you appreciate the beauty that Chicago has to offer!