As in years past, this month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. 2016 marks my fifth anniversary, so to celebrate, I’m hosting Friday Blog-Ins here in San Diego; you can find out more info about where we’re meeting each week on my A to Z Challenge page.
My monthly theme is Chicago From A to Z, so stay tuned from Monday to Saturday for new posts on the Windy City. Or sign up for my mailing list (delivered weekly, on Fridays) so you don’t miss a thing!
I must begin today’s post with a bit of blasphemy:
To me, the skyscraper with the two spires will always be known as the Sears Tower. It was built and paid for by Sears, therefore it’s the Sears Tower. You can’t just slap your name on it, no matter how much money you paid for the privilege – no matter what Donald Drumpf says.
Yes, yes: Sears actually sold the building back in 1994, but they still held naming rights through 2003.
Willis claims the naming rights, as part of their lease of a chunk of the building. But Willis only leases 3% of the building’s total square footage (140,000 square feet out of 3,800,000). So how, exactly, does that translate to “ownership”?
It doesn’t! Indeed, the Willis Group – for whom the building is currently named – doesn’t actually own the tower. An investment firm named Blackstone does. By that measure, shouldn’t it be called the “Blackstone Tower”?
Possession is 9⁄10 of the law
Regardless of who actually owns the deed to the property, who wants to slap their name on it, or who leases the most space in it, I think the building should always be referred to as the Sears Tower. Sears & Roebuck built it, they put up the money needed to finance it, and the tower was their HQ for decades. If that doesn’t entitle them to a damn name, I don’t know what does.
Besides, everyone in Chicago can point you towards the Sears Tower if you ask them. Who can keep track of stuff like Willis vs. Blackstone vs. whomever’s next in a long line of buyers and sellers?
Some things are tradition for a reason. Like the Sears Tower.
Visit the Tower
Regardless of what the building is called, it’s a great place to visit if you want to get a 360-degree view of the city. Even before Willis built The Ledge – reinforced glass decks that offer visitors a chance to look straight down to view the busy city bustling below their feet – the Skydeck allowed visitors unobstructed views from the 103rd floor, where you can see four states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin) and up to 50 miles on a clear day.
And, of course, Ferris Bueller and friends visited the Tower back when it was still the World’s Tallest, making the film a nice slice of American history. (The current tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 2,717 feet tall. By comparison, the Sears Tower is a mere 1,450 feet tall. But whose tower’s in the program selection of “Famous Buildings” on my cardio machine at the gym, huh? HUH?!)