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The Willis Tower-Past, Present and Future


  1974 – Laurie and family

 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.

The button was my sovenier 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!

This view of the Chicago river has also built up.

The black building below left of here is the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where we rode the train into town.

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.  The top of the picture is about 7 miles away.

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!

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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.

2017 Adventures – Happy New Year 2018!


Happy New Year to all of our friends and family who enjoy reading about our adventures. It was a great year and plans are already in the works for the new year.  We will celebrate our 5th year of Adventures in Travel in February, yaay!

We apologize for not publishing much over the last couple of months, life has kept us quite busy over the fall months and Christmas season.  A highlight of the Christmas season was the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train coming through Columbus. Al got a great video over 1000 people have already viewed. See it here!

Another highlight of the season was a house with a 40 minute synchronized music and light show. See it here!

We will be spending the winter catching up on trips that took place after Labor Day.  Also updating older posts that need it. Our “Westward Ho! South Dakota and Wyoming” trip was amazing!  Go back to begin reading about our trip here.  Made some new friends along the way, as well as with enjoying time with long-time friends.

We hope you had a great year too,  see you on the road! Happy New Year from Al and Laurie!

 

 

 

Groundhog Day 2017 in Woodstock-25th Anniversary


2-2-17

Our last visit to Woodstock was for Groundhog Day in 2015, we looked forward to another great celebration! We arrived the night before, a beautiful clear evening with no snow on the ground. Two years ago we had a big snowstorm on Feb 1.  After an easy ride down, we stopped for dinner at the Tip Top Cafe’, actually Taqueria La Placita Taco house.

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The bright light in the window is the actual Tip Top sign in the Groundhog Day movie.

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We sat in the same spot where Phil enjoyed that large breakfast in the movie.

Inside Tip Top


Groundhog Day morning we headed to the Square (Gobbler’s Knob) to see the prognostication.  The place was packed!  We were entertained by Corky Siegel and Die Musikmeisters before the prediction.  He predicted 6 more weeks of winter. We also sang Groundhog carols.

Groundhog Day songs in Woodstock

We were armed with a go pro-like camera mounted on a bike helmet to get over people’s heads and I took photos with my new Canon Rebel T6i camera. Watch it below!

Afterwards we headed to the Moose Lodge for the Groundhog Breakfast and entertainment.  It was packed too, a sell-out crowd!  We got treated to choral performances by the Woodstock High School Choir.  Richard Henzel also reprised his clock radio voice from the movie.He also did it at the Prognostication, he does both voices now since his co-star has not returned in a long time.

I made a batch of groundhog cookies to contribute to the celebration and a cd for the Inner Square committee of GH Day 2006 when WGN came to cover the event.  Watch it all below. The Groundhog picture is from the winner of the Woodstock Independent GH day poster contest. Cute!

Groundhog Cookies and Coloring Contest picture

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After a wonderful breakfast, we joined the crowd for a Bob Hudgin’s-lead Groundhog Day Movie Walking Tour. Joining him was Rick Bellairs, our friend and one of the Inner Square Committee members. This tour was bittersweet as the Bob was going to retire from giving this tour after this year.  Bob was in charge of organizing all of the places where the movie was going to be filmed. He had many anecdotes and told us about a couple of sites not on the guide. That was the tree the boy fell out of and the tunnel seen during the police chase after stealing the groundhog. He had been leading it since 2005 and it was time for someone else to pick up the mantle. Maybe Rick was his understudy too 🙂  I also recorded a video of this historic tour to share with all of you.  Thanks Bob for keeping the movie alive 25 years later!

Bob Hudgins Location Manager of Groundhog Day

Woodstock Groundhog Day Movie Site Walking Tour

That was an incredible tour (and cold!)  We headed to the Public House for lunch and toasted our sodas to World Peace.i-always-drink-to-world-peace-plaque-at-public-house-in-woodstock

Bar in Groundhog Day movie in Woodstock

We got some souvenirs at this delightful bookstore on the square, Read Between the Lynes.  Their helpful staff can help you find the perfect gift or treat for yourself.

Read Beween the Lynes bookstore in Woodstock

iead Between the Lynes staff

Read Between the Lynes Groundhog Day display

Our last stop was the Woodstock Public Library to see artifacts from the movie on display, my cookies were served there to the whole community, sweet!

Woodstock Public Library

Groundhog Display in Woodstock Library sign

Groundhog Garbage can top

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Gobbler's Knob woodstock

 

Richard Henzel was there too, we chatted a bit and took a selfie too. Very nice man and a great conversationalist.

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We had a perfect Groundhog Day in Woodstock, one we wish we could repeat.

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