Chicago Downtown - the Loop
- Sears Tower (Willis Tower), Union Station, Monroe Street, Jackson Boulevard, Civic Opera

The inner core of Chicago's downtown is called the Loop, because several lines of the elevated subway trains, called L trains (Loop trains) go around it in a loop, adding a special character. Sears Tower, a famous black office skyscraper recently renamed to Willis Tower, was the world's tallest building for more then 30 years, 1973-1998, when it surpassed New York's now destroyed One WTC. Sears Tower has 108 floors, a roof height of 442m and is 527m tall to the top of the antenna. It is one of America's most famous landmarks. In 1998 Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur was built, but only bet Sears Tower becaue their spires were integrated into the strucuture, despite being much shorter then Sears Tower's mast, that was not integrated. Later, Taipei 101 and Burj Khalifa were built at even greater heights. There is an observation deck on the 103rd floor, Skydeck Pavilion, that is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago, and was the highlight of our visit. From here you can see Chicago from all sides, Lake Michigan and on clear days into other states. Recently, glass panels were added on the observation deck, so we took the opportunity to walk on glass 103 floors above ground! The building has 76 single deck and 14 double deck elevators. Even though it has been renamed after the London based holding firm Willis, most people still refer to it as Sears Tower (Sears was the world's largest retailer but has since long abandoned the building, hence the name change). Sears Tower is situated in the Northwest end of the loop, near Chicago River at S Wacker Drive and Jackson Blvd.

Next to Sears Tower you find the main Post Office building, and Union Station. Chicago is a major railway hub and Union Station is USA:s largest railway station outside New York. Union Station is an impressive neo-classicism building, situated right next to Sears Tower. There is a famous scene from the popular 1987 movie "the Untouchables", that were shot at the station's grand marble stairway in the Great Hall. The station was built in 1925 to connect the West coast with the East coast.

Fisher Building (lower half) is the oldest surviving highrise building from 19th century (built 1898, 18 floors). Next to it stands Harold Washington Library, an impressive library building that looks like an old station building, but actually is a postmodern building from 1991.

Chase Tower is a curved 60-storey white marble skyscraper from 1969, that features a plaza with a large fountain and artwork at Monroe St.
Civic Opera Building is a 45-storey art deco building from 1929, that houses the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and is situated right next to Chicago River. Louis Sullivan's Carson Pirie and Scott department store from 1900 can also be found in the Loop. Time changes - today you can find rental bikes and even a biking lane in the Loop!

South Loop is the district just south of the Loop, the southermost part of S Michigan Ave and State St. Here you find the Chicago Hilton hotel, one of the first Hiltons in the world and the world's largest hotel when it opened in 1927, that was featured in the 1993 "The Fugitive". You will also find the historic red brick Renaissance Blackstone Hotel from 1910 in South Loop. CNA Center, a skyscraper from 1972 stands out on the skyline with its significant red colour.

Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 01 - tallest building in the world 1973-1998. 527m tall to the antenna, 108 floors. Sears Tower (Willis Tower)  - tallest building in the world 1973-1998. 527m tall to the antenna, 108 floors. Sears Tower (Willis Tower)  - tallest building in the world 1973-1998. 527m tall to the antenna, 108 floors. Sears Tower (Willis Tower)  - tallest building in the world 1973-1998. 527m tall to the antenna, 108 floors. Sears Tower (Willis Tower) - tallest building in the world 1973-1998. 527m tall to the antenna, 108 floors. Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 06 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 07 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 08 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 09 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 10 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 11 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 12 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 13 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 14 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 15 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 16 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 17 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 18 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 19 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 20 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 21 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 22 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 23 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 24 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 25 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 26 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) 27 Sears Tower (Willis Tower) - glass walk
Sears Tower by night seen from John Hancock Sears Tower from Big John Union Station 01 Union Station 02 Union Station 03 Union Station 04 Union Station 05 Union Station 06 Union Station 07 Union Station 08 Union Station 09 Union Station 10 Union Station 11 Union Station 12 Union Station 13 Union Station 14 Union Station 15 - stairway featured in the Untouchables Union Station 16 Union Station 17 Union Station Fisher Bldg Fisher Building from 1896 Fisher Building, apartment bldg from 1896 Harold Washington Library - postmodern building from 1991 Harold Washington Library 02 Harold Washington Library and Fisher Bldg Harold Washington Library, built 1991 Jackson Blvd 01 Jackson Blvd 02 - Sears (Willis) Tower Jackson Blvd 03 Jackson Blvd 04 - Chicago Board of Trade
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