The Ledge got a lot of press this summer when it opened, so I decided today was a great day to visit. Okay, I was already in the Sears Tow… um… Willis Tower for an ISSA Meeting, so it seemed as good an excuse as any.
The newest feature of the Skydeck on the 103rd floor is really pretty impressive. 1500 pound glass panels form four enclosures which stand out 4’4″ from the surface of the building, allowing visitors to walk out into space, 1353 feet above Wacker Drive. And the glass is almost totally clear, not that green tempered stuff that would make you think there was, I dunno, a floor under you. So when you take that first step out there (and the first is the hardest one), your brain pretty much tells you there’s nothing between you and those chicklet-sized taxis down there.
It’s perfectly safe. They’re made from three layers of half-inch thick glass, laminated into seamless “walls.” Each one is designed to support up to five tons of live weight (more than twice what the city required), and they’re really not big enough to cram enough people in to come close. They even had the forethought to add a removable, thinner layer of glass onto the floor – so when it gets all scratched up, they can just replace it.
But people still get a little nervous for the first minute or two. Then they start to get used to the idea and some of them even get a little giddy. Overall, a great experience, and I’d recommend it – enjoy a few more pictures.