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Willis Tower, formerly named Sears Tower, is a 108-story 1,450 feet skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. At the time of its completion in 1973 it was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center towers in New York. Currently, Willis Tower is the tallest building in the United States and the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the world. Although Sears' naming rights expired in 2003, the building continued to be called Sears Tower for several years. However, in March 2009 London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., agreed to lease a portion of the building and as part of the agreement obtained the building's naming rights. On July 16, 2009, at 10:00 am Central Time, the building was officially renamed Willis Tower. The Sears Tower Skydeck observation deck opened on June 22, 1974 and is located on the 103rd floor of the tower. It is 1,353 feet above ground and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Chicago. Tourists can experience how the building sways on a windy day. They can see far over the plains of Illinois and across Lake Michigan to Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin on a clear day. It takes about 60 seconds to soar to the top in either of two special, Schindler Group elevators. The Skydeck competes with the John Hancock Center's observation floor a mile and a half away, which is 323 feet lower. 1.3 million tourists visit the Skydeck annually. In January 2009, the Skydeck began a major renovation including the installation of glass balconies extending approximately four feet over Wacker Drive from the 103rd floor. The all-glass boxes allow visitors to look through the floor to the street 1,353 feet below. The boxes, which can bear five tons of weight, opened to the public on July 2, 2009. The top of Willis Tower is the highest point in Illinois. The tip of its highest antenna is 1,730 feet above street level or 2,325 feet above sea level, its roof is 1,450 feet and 7 inches above street level or 2,046 feet above sea level, the 103rd floor observation deck (The Sky deck) is 1,353 feet above street level or 1,948 feet above sea level, the Wacker Drive main entrance is 595 feet above sea level. The building leans about 4 inches from vertical due to its slightly asymmetrical design, placing unequal loads on its foundation. The antennas atop Willis Tower are struck by lightning an average of 650-675 times per year. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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