Chicago's newest tourist attraction is open for business and it's giving visitors a new perspective on the city.
From the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, once the city's tallest building, tourists get the chance to lean against windows that tilt downward to the city 1,000 feet below.
Officials said Thursday (May 22) that more than 12,000 tourists had visited the attraction since it was opened on May 10.
You know when your ears pop in the elevator on the way up that you are in for a thrilling experience. In fact, the elevator is the fastest in the Northern Hemisphere, traveling at 1,800 feet per minute. But the popping doesn't quite prepare you for stepping out onto the window-wrapped 94th floor that on a clear day gives you views of four states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Stunning views all around and you can walk up flush to any of the windows and look down. But where the Tilt is located, you walk up to the steel and glass enclosed area, grab on to the handles on either side and catch your breath as the operator tilts the windows out and down at a 19-degree angle. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that is the angle at which people lose their balance, so it feels a bit disconcerting. After a few seconds at 19 degrees, the operator tilts you out two more times, the furthest at a 30-degree angle, where you remain for 20 seconds, your body leaning against the glass if you are so inclined. The entire experience lasts about 2 minutes.
I'm a bit of a daredevil and didn't expect any trepidation. But I was a bit queasy as the window tilted out. Not enough to make me step back from the ledge, but enough that I wondered how much longer this would last and how much further the window would tilt down. I made it to the end with a bit of adrenaline pumping. Eight people can share the experience at one time.
Not everyone makes it all the way through. A man trying the Tilt on the day I was there stepped back from the glass moments after the first downward tilt, happy to be standing straight up and not at an angle. And I've been told that a few of the visitors during the first two weeks of operation have tossed their cookies.
The Tilt and the observatory are run by 360 Chicago, which charges $18 for general admission for ages 12 and up to the 94th floor observatory and an extra $5 for the Tilt experience. Children ages 3-11 pay $12 for observatory admission. Children must be at least 42 inches tall to try the Tilt.
The John Hancock Building is in Chicago's Gold Coast, at 875 N. Michigan Ave. The observatory entrance is on the north side of the building.
For more information, call visit the 360 Chicago website or call, on weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., (312) 751-3681. All
other times, please call (312) 654-2892.