Those who have visited sky-high Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois on a windy day know what it feels like when the 103rd floor of a skyscraper sways in the wind like a palm tree. If swaying back and forth in a conventional room isn’t thrilling enough for you, consider standing on one of Willis Tower’s glass Ledges. The Ledges—which were completed in 2009—allow visitors to stand in a series of compact glass boxes which offer viewers one of the most stunning panoramic city views in North America.
Though the glass Ledges may appear flimsy, they are designed to support nearly 5 tons. That means you and several of your closest friends can seemingly hover above the city of Chicago all at once. The Ledges offer a spectacular view of Lake Michigan, Wrigley Field, Navy Pier, and countless other Windy City hotspots. On a clear day, occupants of the Ledges can see all the way to Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Ledges of Willis Tower were constructed because one too many visitors left greasy hand and forehead prints on the 103rd floor’s oversized windows in an attempt to get the best possible view of Chicago. The supports for the Ledges have been in existence since the building—which was once known as the Sears Tower—was first constructed in 1974. Cleaning and maintenance crews formerly used retractable ledges to keep Chicago’s tallest building in working order.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a fearless window washer tasked with keeping the windows of a towering skyscraper streak free, the Ledges of Willis Tower can offer you a glimpse into that thrilling life. Just be sure to keep your hands and your forehead away from the glass so that you don’t add to the workload of one of Chicago’s brave window washers.