Willis Tower Ledge Cracks; Patrons Never in DangerBy: Brian Powell - May 30, 2014
When Alejandro Garibay ventured forth from Stockton, Ca to visit Chicago, he was told that he must do one thing while there – visit the Skydeck at Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). “I told them this was one of the things they definitely had to check out,” said Garibay’s cousin, who had visited the attraction five times previously.
While Garibay and his compatriots were expecting to see startling views and a feeling of vertigo, the last thing they thought to see was their lives flashing before their eyes.
After sitting on The Ledge, a glass box which extends 4.3 feet out into the air at the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, to pose for a picture with his compatriots, Garibay noticed something wrong with the floor of the structure.
“I thought it would be cool to get a picture of my cousins and brother. Then we started getting off and, as we pushed ourselves off, I could feel it cracking. It was completely shattering. I thought there was only cracked glass between us and 103 floors down,” Garibay recalled.
As soon as he noticed the cracks, Garibay alerted the staff of the Willis Tower: “I walked them over so they could see and they were totally shocked and asked us to step away and then proceeded to start calling staff and techs and I don’t know who else. When we pulled our phones to start recording and take pictures they asked us to leave right away.”
After a quick inspection of the situation, though, the Willis Tower was able to assure Garibay and others that no one was ever truly in danger.
Spokesman for the Willis Tower, Randy Stancik, explained why the cracks appeared in the floor of The Ledge: “[The top layer of the Ledge] is designed to crack when somebody drops something on it. It’s not structural. The top piece is protective.” Stancik went on to add that the protection is there so one mustn’t wear those protective booties or socks “like you’ll have to do at the Grand Canyon.”
The Ledge experienced a temporary shutdown on Thursday to undergo routine inspections and to replace the protective coating, but the experienced is up and running at full capacity again today.
Despite the fact that the coating cracked, one should not be discouraged from visiting The Ledge. Constructed from three, half-inch sheets of 1,500 pound glass sheets, the structure is designed to hold at least 5,000 pounds – the average weight of one adult hippopotamus.
Image via Wikimedia Commons