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Cracks in protective coating temporarily close Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge

Some California tourists got a bit of a scare Wednesday night when visiting the Skydeck Ledge at Chicago’s Willis Tower.

Some tourists got a scare Wednesday when protective coating over the glass cracked. The structural integrity of the glass observation boxes was not threatened.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Alejandro Garibay told NBC5 in Chicago that he, his brother and two cousins heard cracking while standing in the glass enclosure about 10 p.m. Wednesday. A spokesman for Willis Tower said the structural integrity of The Ledge was not affected and that the Ledge boxes were temporarily closed Thursday morning while a coating on the glass is replaced.

“The Ledge was designed with a protective coating that completely covers all glass surfaces to protect against scratches. This coating does not affect the structural integrity of The Ledge in any way,” according to Skydeck Chicago’s official statement provided Thursday by spokesman Brian Rehme. “Occasionally, the coating will crack, as it is designed in order to protect the surface of the glass.”

The Ledge boxes, 103 stories high in the 110-story office building in Chicago’s Loop, opened in 2009 and have since become a big tourist draw. More than 1.5 million tourists visit the 103rd floor Skydeck every year.

Garibay emailed NBC Chicago after his experience. He said that he and his relatives heard cracking while they were on the Ledge, and 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,” Garibay told NBC Chicago. “When we pulled our phones to start recording and take pictures they asked us to leave right away.”

Another Chicago tourist attraction opened earlier this month and is called The Tilt, at the John Hancock Building.

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