Chicago, Illinois

I arrive in Chicago. All photos taken by me except diagram and video.

Occupy Wall Street Chicago, again, the Occupy Protests are in every city, in Chicago they’ve been prevented from camping in any park, so here they are protesting the ‘banksters’ out the front of Bank of America.

Chicago is world famous for its architecture, but it surprised me to see this prison remand centre in the middle of downtown. It has an exercise yard on the roof for inmates. This is probably where former Governor Rod Blagojevich will be held initially in a few weeks when he is sentenced. For a couple of years now the former Governor’s crimes have dominated the news, after he was exposed as trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacated senate seat. Imagine exercising as an inmate in the rooftop exercise yard, with the view of the skyline around you, when you used to be the most powerful man in the state! what a fall from grace. He is due to be sentenced in early December, it will be all over the news when it happens.

Sears Tower, the 108 story 1,451-foot (442 m)  supertall skyscraper, was ranked as the tallest building in the world from its 1973 completion, until 1998, nearly a quarter century. It remains the tallest building in the United States. Two years ago it was officially renamed the ‘Willis Tower’ when a British insurance company bought the naming rights, however, most Chicagoans ignore that renaming, and remain opposed to it, so I am going to join in and keep calling it the Sears Tower.

It is really several skyscrapers in one, as seen in the above diagram.

The Sears Tower Skydeck is on the 103rd floor, the elevator travels at something like 60km an hour. There are 104 elevators in the building.

Elevator ride, video taken by someone else, from youtube.

Spectacular Sears Tower Skydeck view. The tall black building in the middle is the John Hancock building. It also has a skydeck, an interesting photo of the Sears Tower could be taken from there.

My feet standing on the glass bottom skybox. Recently erected in the last couple of years. The glass was dirty from foot traffic. But I could see clearer with my own eyes. Many people were scared of walking out there.

They employed the same architectural firm that originally designed the whole building 40 years ago to build the glass skyboxes. They came up with a unique way to have a seamless glass strucure that could hold 3 tons of weight 103 floors up, they are not taking any chances.

These kids didn’t seem to be afraid of heights at all. This is very good shot.

Fire escape plan for the 103rd floor. I got a sense of what it must have been like to be trapped so high during the terror attack in New York ten years ago. The World Trade Center was almost as high as the Sears Tower. I spoke to a guy who was having a smoke outside on the ground level, who works high up in the bulding. He said he had worked there for years, and just this morning, the most interesting event in his time at the building had happened, when a police helicopter appeared very close to his office window, just like the movie True Lies. It was no emergency, just something interesting that happened.

Window cleaners appeared while I was on the skydeck. Out of 100 photos of the skydeck, I culled them down for you, and this is clearly one of the best. These guys were working outside on the 103rd floor, and they clean higher than that. Listening to their ipods, getting paid danger money washing the windows of one of the world’s most iconic structures.

The Sears Tower even has its own Lego set sold in the gift shop.

Sears Tower, seen between the twigs of a tree. Man-made contrasted with nature.

This retro 1970s vending machine will mold a plastic miniture replica of the Sears Tower before your eyes. They come out piping hot, I saw a kid cry when his mother bought one for him they were so hot.

My awesome hotel, the Essex Inn, hallway.

Don’t forget to scroll down for Salt Lake City.

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About ryaninseries

Ryan in America travel blog 2011-2012
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