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Sears is open to the public

The Sears Tower
Sears Tower and glass cubes

Sears employees and renters began moving into the Sears Tower in fall 1973. They used the tower’s 104 elevators to get to their offices. The enormous flow of workers in and out of the tower brought new life to that part of downtown. Soon new shops and restaurants opened nearby. In 1974 the Sears Tower Skydeck opened to the public. The Skydeck is an observation deck on the tower’s 103rd floor. On the Skydeck, visitors stand 1,353 feet (412 m) above the sidewalk.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and telescopes show views of the city and the lake. Interactive exhibits detail Chicago’s history, famous people, and landmarks. In 1982 Sears added two antennas. The white antennas raised the overall height of the tower to 1,730 feet (527 m). Thirty radio and television stations use the antennas to transmit signals. Sears, Roebuck did not stay downtown. Its business did not grow as much as expected, and it did not need all that space. In 1992 the company sold the tower and moved to the suburbs.

View of Sears Tower

In the 2000s, more than one hundred companies rent offices in the Sears Tower. On average, more than ten thousand people work, do business, eat, and shop in the tower every day. In 2009 the tower’s owners announced plans to make this busy center more energy-efficient. As a first step, wind turbines and solar panels will be installed on the building’s setback roofs. Those systems will convert wind and solar power into electricity for the building. Over a five-year period, the tower’s heating, cooling, and lighting systems will be updated. The owners hope to reduce the tower’s need for outside electricity by 80 percent. An exciting update to the Skydeck was also unveiled. About 1.3 million people every year take the zooming elevators to the Skydeck. Beginning in July 2009, visitors with strong stomachs can step out onto the Ledge. The Ledge is a set of four all-glass balconies on the Skydeck’s west side. Through the Ledge’s glass floors, visitors can look straight down 103 stories from the top of Chicago’s architectural wonder.

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