"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
Winter Hours: From September through May we are open by appointment only.
This was the building in 2016.
The building in 2017/18.
Since we were here for the Big Top Circus Parade, learning more about the history of clowns was a great addition to the day. We could tell by the entryway it was going to be a fun visit! Tours are conducted daily at 2 June through August.
Inside is a large room with displays dedicated to famous clown past and almost present.
The clown giving the tour was talking about the clown’s roles in history and even had some artifacts from their performance days.
Bobo‘s tiny clown car, I don’t know how he got into that!
My visits to the former Sear’s Tower began the year the skydeck was open for viewing in 1974 when I was 7. It opened on June 22 and we went that fall. It is on the 103rd floor. I don’t remember a lot, but my grandparents Norm and Barb Braton came along and grandpa filmed some of the view out of the North-facing windows. This is the Lake Point Tower Condominiums building on the right side of the photo. This photo is composed of two frames of the Super 8 film. It was color but it was inconsistent so I changed it to monochrome. The reason why this view is significant is because it was where Al’s Mom would be living in the late 70’s-early 80’s. As you see, there are no buildings around it YET.
See the video in its entirety.
Photographer Jack Bradley took this photo from the tower in 1975.
Here is another view of the city from the 1970’s from a postcard taken from that era-Phil Valzez.
Cost of admission in 1977, probably the same in 1974. Found in this 1977 guide published by the Chicago Tribune.
The button was my souvenir from then.
10-17-03 29 years later…
Still the Sears Tower until 2009. This time, Al and I went alone. We got more photos this time. They also had a very nice brochure on cardstock. For some reason I don’t have a lot of memories from this visit.
Prices that year.
A couple displays on the walls.
The Northwest view.
Revisiting the Lakepoint Condo viewpoint, much more built up now around it. You can see another building going up nearby.
The clover leaf on the East-facing side.
1-30-18 15 Years later…
It took awhile but we finally made it back. This time we did a day trip. We took the Metra commuter train in from Harvard, IL at 5:47 AM. We learned in advance Tuesdays are often the slowest days and be there when they open the doors at 9:30 AM. I recommend monitoring the Skydeck Chicago-Willis Tower page on Tripadvisor. We knew the express elevators were not in use so waits might be longer.
They opened promptly at 10:00. We put our stuff through the security check then went to get our tickets, general admission. I have no photos on this area since they were prohibited. Prices have really risen in 15 years. Of course, different ownership too.
The brochure as it looks now, no longer on cardstock, just glossy paper.
On your way to the elevator, they take your picture in front of a green screen with the option to buy before your exit or online. This is what it looks like, we didn’t get this one.
We got in line quick, aware of the growing crowd behind us. You can also see an informational 9-minute movie about the tower called “Reaching the Sky” before going up.
We were in the first elevator(s) up! The views were just as incredible as we remembered, and there were more towers built or being built.
We revisit the Northwest view. That tall silver building in the middle is the Trump Tower. Construction began in 2005, completed in 2008.
And back to the Lake Point condo building. A new skyscraper is going up on the left!
The biggest change at the tower since 2003 is the installation of The Ledge™. It’s a reinforced glass “box” that extends outside beyond the other windows. The view was incredible in there, you either feel like a bird or queasy. Al and I did it and felt fine! This picture was taken by another visitor. You are facing East.
Looking at another ledge from inside.
And down. You can see where we entered the building.
View of the ledge boxes from the ground, how tiny they look!
This is the same side as the clover leaf we saw in 2003. Let’s take a new look.
One of the most interesting buildings we saw was the MCC Jailhouse Skyscraper. Even the jails are tall here and saw a volleyball game played by the inmates on the roof. It holds 681. This is on the West-facing side. Apparently it’s hard to see from the ground.
Other skyline views. This is the Chicago north side. That cone-shaped object in the upper left corner is the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. It is 16 miles north of here.
We have been up in the tower for about two hours now, it was nearly 12:30. It was time to go see more of Chicago since we had to be back on the train at 3:30. We could not resist getting a copy of the picture the staff took on the Ledge™.
Enjoy video of our visit!
Blackstone? Tower future
The tower had been sold to the Blackstone Group in March of 2015, though you could not tell that yet on the outside. In the near future it will be undergoing some renovations to make it a more welcoming place to visitors. Perhaps in 7 or 8 years, we will be back to see this 3rd incarnation of Chicago’s largest office building.
Token Creek is an unincorporated community that is part of the village of Windsor. The town of Burke also has some sections here as well. We are going explore Token Creek, past and present.
We had the pleasure of celebrating July 4th here in 2017, so much fun! They distill July 4th to the basics, honoring all veterans , joining family and community together for a day of fun. A favorite tradition is holding hands and singing along to Lee Greenwood’s famous song, God Bless the USA. They call it the “Circle of Freedom”. See it here.
Token Creek also has many businesses on Portage Road and Highway 19. A popular restaurant is on the corner of Hwy 19 and Portage Rd is the Paddle Inn. We need to eat there sometime.
Turn right at the corner and you find several more.
Gentle Breezes Hot Air Balloons has been giving you a ride to remember since 1990. Before that there was a different balloon company here called Token Creek Balloons, different ownership. At one time, the water tower near our home was painted with their logo. It now is blue and says “DeForest”.
Next is the parks, Token Creek cares about the wildlife in the are and makes sure they have a place here too. Token Creek itself is still a work in progress. Across 19 from Portage road is a sign about that.
Continue down the road and you will get to the Token Creek Conservancy, where the old grist mill used to be.
At this pond behind the sign, only the disabled are allowed to fish here. Just beyond this sign is the Token Creek marker you see at the top of the page.
A little past here is more of the park and the cemetery where the Veteran’s Remembrance Ceremony was held on July 4th. First the bridge over the creek.
The mill used to be in this area, now a beautiful park. To the left of the parking lot is the cemetery.
Keep walking streight ahead through the parking lot and you will soon come upon a bridge over the creek. Also a plaque on a rock to the right of the bridge.
Here you will find the other marker in Token Creek, near the park entrance.
You can camp here too.
Enjoy the pine forest with many mature trees.
I enjoyed my visits to Token Creek. To learn more about the community in the 19th and 20th centuries, I have a copy of this book, Token Creek by Mae Bork. The book is now out of print, but I found a copy here if you are interested.