"Ledge" at Willis Tower Skydeck Reopens After Repairs

Cracks appeared Wednesday night in what an official said was a "protective coating" for glass of 103rd story tourist attraction

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Visitors who braved the Willis Tower’s Skydeck got quite a surprise when they stepped out onto The Ledge. They thought it was cracking under them, 103 stories above the ground. Turns out it was just the protective coating, but they didn’t know that at the time. NBC 5’s Michelle Relerford spoke with them about their hair-raising experience. (Published Thursday, May 29, 2014)

    All four boxes of The Ledge, the glass-encased tourist attraction at the Willis Tower that gives visitors a remarkable view 103 stories above Chicago, reopened Friday after repairs.

    Building officials closed the attraction after cracks appeared in what they said was merely a coating meant to protect the panes of glass. They insist the cracks did not compromise the integrity of the affected box and that there was no danger to visitors.

    "Occasionally, the coating will crack, as it is designed to in order to protect the surface of the glass," building spokesman Brian Rehme said in a statement. "The protective coating on the affected Ledge box has been replaced and fully accessible to all Skydeck visitors."

    Breakdancing on the Ledge

    [CHI] Breakdancing on the Ledge
    Some people won't even brave stepping out on the Ledge, but one guy clearly moves to the beat of his own drum. (Published Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009)

    Several workers were seen Thursday afternoon carrying a quarter-inch thick protective glass designed to go over the box’s 1.5-inch thick structural glass. Officials said the protective layer is replaced every five to eight months and has cracked three times in the last five years.

    Officials said the structural glass is designed to hold up to 10,000 pounds and believe someone may have dropped something on the protective layer, causing the crack.

    Still, it was a frightening experience for family members visiting from Stockton, California. Alejandro Garibay said he and others were joking with staff about the strength of the boxes even before he, his brother, and two cousins walked out into one of the boxes.

    They jokingly and confidently responded, 'It's unbreakable,' so we just went on," said Garibay.
    While he and his family members were on the Ledge, Garibay said he heard cracking. They stepped off and alerted staffers.