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."
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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.