The Willis Tower is a 110-story building located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Illinois  and rises up to 1,451 feet. The tower’s address is 233 S Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL. 60606. It is the third tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and North America, falling closely behind The World Trade Center and Central Park Tower in New York City.

Willis Tower - Wikipedia

Image of The Willis Tower during the day.



The Willis Tower opened in 1973, The Willis Tower was designed by structural engineer, Fazlur Rahman Khan and architect, Bruce Graham. The owners of Sears Roebuck and Company bought over 40 acres of land in Chicago to start construction to open the Willis Tower as Sears headquarters and main operations location. Construction for the tower began in August of 1970 and took three years to complete in May of 1973. The Willis Tower is a landmark because it is hard to miss in the skyline of Chicago and is one of the tallest buildings in the world. 

Reflected: A constructor in the process of building The Willis Tower in 1970.


Name Change:

The Willis Tower was not its original name when it opened in 1973, it was called The Sears Tower at first. This was due to the fact that Sears Roebuck and Company, an American chain department store that sells clothes, footwear, bedding, furniture, accessories, etc. to consumers was one of the largest retailers in the world in 1969. The owners of the company, Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck decided to build The Sears Tower because they needed more office space for their 350,000 employees. Unfortunately, Sears sales and fortunes started to decline after moving into the tower and by 1995, the company had completely vacated the building. Sears then retained naming rights until 2003. However the Willis Group Holdings, a London-based global insurance broker, leased a part of the building and obtained naming rights. The Sears Tower was then permanently renamed to The Willis Tower in 2009.

What you talkin' bout, Willis? Sears Tower renamed

Transformation from the tower being named Sears Tower (1969-2009) then changed to Willis Tower (2009-present day).


Tourist Attractions:

One of the most top tourist attractions and things to do in Chicago is located in The Willis Tower. Skydeck Chicago  -  The Ledge is a one stop attraction that allows tourists to start their experience from the bottom of the building to the top. Visitors start at the lower levels and experience an interactive museum that reveals and educates people about the history, traditions, and the overall personality of Chicago. For example, it is a museum that ranges from deep-dish pizzas, Chicago-style hotdogs to the Chicago sports teams: the Cubs, Blackhawks, Bears, and Bulls. When the museum comes to an end, visitors will go up the elevator and visit the 103rd floor which is 1,353 feet high up the building. The Skydeck is a unique experience because visitors are able to step into a fully clear glass box that extends out 4.3 feet from the tower and take pictures/videos of the exhilarating views of the city. 

Admission tickets cost $30 dollars for adults and $22 for children. Children that are under the ages of 3 receive free admission. Tickets are also available to buy online or in The Willis Tower itself. In addition, The Skydeck offers dinner service, events, and venues with its views from the The Skydeck floor. 

SOM's revamped Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower reopens 103 floors above the  Windy CitySkydeck Chicago Admission Ticket 2023

The SkyDeck experience!


Things To Do in The Willis Tower:

The Willis Tower has plenty of floors that offer entertainment, restaurants, and retail that  keep visitors occupied. Restaurants located in The Willis Tower include Sushi-San, sweetgreen, Do-Rite Donuts, Rick Bayless Tortazo, Starbucks, Shake Shack, Brown Bag Seafood Inc., Kindling, and Joe & The Juice. There are also markets like Market Creations and Foxtrot for quick grocery stops as well. 

The Color Factory is a featured museum on the lower level of The Willis Tower. The museum offers a colorful, unique interactive and immersive experience for guests. The museum also collaborates with artists and nonprofit organizations to bring together the pieces of artwork and sculptures that are shown throughout the museum. The Tower also offers a fitness center that tenants of office and retail spaces can use to work out while they are at work! 

Catalog Dinging and Shopping - Willis Tower


Purpose of The Willis Tower: 

The Willis Tower is a large, major corporate office building. Over 100 offices to different types of companies are located in the building including: insurance, transportation, and law services. The largest tenant in The Willis Tower is United Airlines, they occupy over 20 floors. 

The Willis Tower offers owners of companies to lease a space in the building, whether it is an office or retail leasing. Individuals interested in leasing can fill out their information on https://www.willistower.com/catalog

At Willis Tower, Community Is Still the Heart of Our 'New Normal' -  PlaceLab | EQ Office

Another interior design look. 


Special Programs:

The Willis Tower has programs that are available to the public. Its goal is to better the overall Chicago work environment and community. One of the programs includes the Women of Willis. The Women of Willis is a program that allows women in the community to build networks and connections with other working women. The other program is Tower Talks, which is exclusively for tenants of the tower. This program takes tenants through workshops and meetings that help their business be successful. 


Location and Design:

The Willis Tower’s exterior design was difficult to create because Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan had to come up with a design that would be creative and resist wind loads. Both architects used the bundled tube system which is a system that involves individual tubes connected to form multiple-celled tubes. The interior design of The Willis Tower is modern with various colors like white, black, and gray and inspired by Chicago neighborhoods. 

The location of The Willis Tower was strategically thought out initially for Sears employees. The location was supposed to make it convenient and easy for their employees to get to work. The tower is located in the West Loop, which has access to the expressways and train lines. 

✓ Sears Tower - Willis Tower - Data, Photos & Plans - WikiArquitectura


Fun Facts:

  • It takes approximately 60 seconds to go from the ground floor to the Skydeck. 

  • In the beginning of construction, Sears bought off about 15 buildings from owners to clear the area to be able to start building The Willis Tower.

  • The Willis Tower cost $150 million dollars to build in the 1970’s.


Willis Tower in Chicago - Tickets, Facts, and Info for your ...

The Willis Tower shown at night.


  1. 6 interesting facts about Willis Tower (former Sears Tower). The Tower Info Skyscrapers & Urban Adventures. (n.d.). https://thetowerinfo.com/buildings-list/willis-tower/

  2. Willis Tower. Buildings of Chicago | Chicago Architecture Center. (n.d.). https://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/buildings-of-chicago/building/willis-tower/

  3. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Learn about the history of Sears, Roebuck, and Company and the willis (Sears) Tower, Chicago. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/video/187611/discussion-history-Sears-Roebuck-and-Company-Willis

  4. Willis Tower Chicago to the world. Willis Tower. Experience and Icon from Street to Sky. https://www.willistower.com/