Forty years ago today—May 3, 1973. Has it really been that long?
On Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, the Sears Tower was topped off. Our city now had the tallest building in the world.
Sears had maintained its main office in North Lawndale for decades. During the late 1960s the company decided to build new headquarters. After looking in the suburbs, they chose a centrally-located site, just west of the Loop
The original plan was to build two separate buildings. That was changed to a single structure, 1,454 feet high. As board chairman Gordon Metcalf explained, “Being the largest retailer in the world, we thought we should have the largest headquarters in the world.”
Construction began in 1970. The foundations were dug, and the steel frame began to rise slowly over Wacker Drive. At the 1,369-foot mark the Sears Tower passed the former record holder, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
Raw, windy weather nearly postponed the May 3rd topping-off festivities. The ceremonial final girder contained the signatures of the 12,000 people who had worked on the project.
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