Coating on Willis (Sears) Tower Skydeck’s Ledge Cracks Under Tourists

Coating on Willis (Sears) Tower Skydeck’s Ledge Cracks Under Tourists

One of the boxes of The Ledge, the 103rd floor tourist attraction atop Chicago’s Willis Tower, appeared to show cracks Wednesday night, but a building official said what was damaged was a protective layer on the glass and that there was no danger to visitors.

Alejandro Garibay, his brother, and two cousins were in the glass enclosure that juts out of the west side of the building shortly before 10 p.m. when Garibay said they heard cracking.

“Crazy feeling and experience,” Garibay wrote in an email to NBC Chicago. Watch the NBC 5 NEWS at NOON to hear Garibay’s experience first-hand.

Brian Rehme, a spokesman for public relations firm FleishmanHillard, said that was cracked was a protective coating on the glass structure and not the glass itself.

“This coating does not affect the structural integrity of The Ledge in any way. Occasionally, the coating will crack, as it is designed to in order to protect the surface of the glass,” Rehme said in a statement.

The attraction remained open Thursday with the cracked portion reportedly covered with a piece of carpet.

Still, it was a frightening experience for the family members visiting from California. Garibay said he and others were joking with staff about the strength of the boxes even before his group 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.

“I walked them over so they could see and they were totally shocked and asked us to step away and then proceeded to start calling staff and techs and I don’t know who else. When we pulled our phones to start recording and take pictures they asked us to leave right away,” he said.

When the tourist experience opened in 2009, engineers said the boxes were composed of three layers of glass each about one half-inch thick. They were built to hold five tons, officials said.

Another tourist attraction at the John Hancock Center, called Tilt, opened to visitors earlier this month.

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