CHICAGO â€“ I'd trace my love of tall buildings to growing up in New York, but I doubt one has anything to do with the other.
My childhood visits to the observation decks at the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center were fun, but the crowds at ESB and places like Chicago's Willis Tower and Hancock Center are proof that I'm in no way unique in my love at looking at the world from high above.
It's been a couple decades since I scaled (well, rode the elevator up) what was then called the Sears Tower. Back then, the 108-story building was still the world's tallest at 1,451 feet. Since 2009, the soaring black tower designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, has been called the Willis Tower.
The modernist building, completed in 1973, lost its title as the world's tallest 11 years earlier when the Petronas Twin Towers were erected in Kuala Lumpur. It is, however, still the tallest in the U.S. and, I assume, the entire North American continent, and seventh tallest in the world.
This weekend, I returned to ride the super-fast elevator up to the Skydeck once again. (Tip: invest in the Fast Pass, so you can skip the long lines.) In large part I went back so that I could test my mettle by stepping out onto the Ledge: one of three plexiglass boxes that jut out the west side of the building. Even the floor is transparent.
Whenever I have to climb a ladder to change a light bulb high above the garage door or clean leaves out of the gutters, I think of myself as being afraid of heights â€“ though for my urban spelunking stories I have climbed circular staircases and old wooden ladders surrounded by nothingness, straight up into high, dark places â€“ and I figured stepping out on to the Ledge would help me face this fear, sorta.
After waiting in a bit of a line, I stepped out and though I wasn't frightened, I did feel a little unsteady, almost like I might lose my balance due to the "lack" of a floor.
Looking down was unreal. Sure, it's far, but just like looking out the big panels of glass that line the entire Skydeck, there's a feeling that it's not really ... real. After all, the people look like ants and the vehicles like Matchbox cars.
I'd be super proud of myself for "taking the plunge" â€“ so to speak â€“ if it weren't for the fact that all around me tots toddled out like it was nothing, giggling the whole time.
I could NEVER do that!! My fear of heights is so strong that I couldn't even take the elevator to the Polaris restaurant at the top of the Hyatt downtown. Even from the inside, I couldn't handle the glass elevator and seeing, my God, all those floors going up and how high up we were (I'm sorry, but glass elevators are just WRONG!!!). The waitstaff there let me and my friend use the service elevator instead. So my hat is off to you, my friend, for accomplishing this feat. I however, will pass on it.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Sept. 22, 2016
There was a time when removing a building was a dramatic affair: buildings imploded with a boom or were pounded by a wrecking ball. These days, thankfully, there's a growing approach that seeks to keep as much waste out of landfills and reuse and recycle as much material as possible.
Published Sept. 21, 2016
Did you know Milwaukee Public Schools has what might be the largest group of public Montessori schools in the world? Now, led by school board member Tati Joseph, there's a push to add a new South Side dual-language program to that group.
Published Sept. 20, 2016
Even in a neighborhood full of vintage architecture, there's no mistaking it. The Italianate Cream City Brick building at 1704 N. 4th St. looks old. If the area has had a long, varied history (and it has), then Baasen House is perfectly at home here.
Published Sept. 18, 2016
There's no better way to get a peek inside Milwaukee's most interesting - and often most historic - sites, many of them typically off limits to the public, than Historic Milwaukee Inc.'s annual Doors Open Milwaukee event. Here are 10 must-see sites.
Published Sept. 15, 2016
This is Brew City, so it should come as no surprise that we value Milwaukee's beer-soaked history. And Regano's Roman Coin has been a part of that tradition for five decades. In honor of it Regano's is throwing a party and we asked Teri Regano about it.
Published Sept. 13, 2016
Yesterday morning, a group of kindergarteners from Milwaukee Public Schools' Rogers Street Academy visited BMO Harris Bank to judge auditions by local sports mascots for roles in the upcoming production of Milwaukee Ballet's "The Nutcracker."
Published Sept. 12, 2016
This past weekend a Tosa resident staged a huge party at Red Dot on North Avenue in East Tosa with Public Enemy, Run-DMC, Sir-Mix-A-Lot, Rakim, EPMD and others. I was there for the first night of the two-day jam. Here are some images.
Published Sept. 8, 2016
Yesterday, respected Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra was here to talk about two new shows that feature her work. The main focus was on "Rehearsals," a video installations that opens Friday, Sept. 9. The two works in the installation make their museum debuts here.
Published Sept. 8, 2016
Could a South Milwaukee brewery be on the horizon? Yes, if a local developer gets the OK to move ahead with a new $6.6 million plan announced this morning by South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks.
Published Sept. 8, 2016
During a recent I-94 series, I went to Wrigley and spotted a few Brewers fans. But just a few. There's hardly a better place to road trip to a ballgame than the Windy City. Here are some tips for a sports-fueled jaunt to see the Brewers face the Cubs at Wrigley Field.