Sears Tower - Chicago Skyline - Blog

Not many people know that Chicago really has had two Sears towers. Before Fazlur Kahn's Sears Tower of 1973, the iconic Chicago department store had a 2.5 block long complex of offices and manufacturing North Lawndale on Chicago's West Side. Here the iconic Chicago department store centered their operations for almost seventy years, with administrative offices, catalog printing, athletic facilities, and WLS radio station. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

While most of the original Sears complex has been demolished, the "original Sears Tower" remains. On the outside it looks like many early industrial constructions of brick, with European-inspired details like arched windows. In this view from the inside of the old Sears Tower, we get a spectacular view of the city as well as the "new" Sears Tower dominating our cityscape, though it has been eclipsed as the tallest building in the world.

View from Sears Tower One
The "new Sears Tower" in downtown Chicago officially got a new name in 2009 from London-based insurance company Willis Group Holdings. Now "Willis Tower," the building for many will always be "Sears Tower." Chicagoans will hold on to the name "Sears" not just out of habit, but because we don't cheer about our Chicago originals getting bought out by outside entities (like Marshall Field's and Macy's).
Chicago Architecture - Blog
Contrasting the old with the new, one finds that both are equally impressive. The old Sears strikes us with its history, its architectural details, and its early vision of a corporation. The new Sears astounds us with its engineering of such a massive and tall building, and the sky-high views we can enjoy from the 103rd floor SkyDeck. Both illustrate for their times the famous quote of Chicago architect Daniel Burnham: "Make no little plans."