Six observation decks each attract over one million tourists annually and rank among the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle. They are as follows:
• The tallest building in the U.S., Chicago’s Willis Tower (www.skydeck.com), formerly named the Sears Tower, rises 1,454 feet, or 110 stories. Completed in 1974, the tower’s skydeck sits at 1,353 feet. Each year 1.5 million visitors pay $19 each ($12 for children) for the view.
• The John Hancock Center Observatory (www.hancock-observatory.com) boasts the world’s fastest elevators, which take just 39 seconds to take visitors to the 94 th floor. On a clear day a visitor can see up to 80 miles away and take in a view of four states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Las Vegas, NV
• At 1,149 feet, the Stratosphere T ower (www.stratospherehotel.com/attractions.html) is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States and the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. An outdoor observation deck at the top of the tower rises to 872 feet. The Las Vegas Sun estimated that Stratosphere drew 5.5 million visitors during its first year, in 1996. The tower hosts weddings and offers the Big Shot, X Scream, and Insanity thrill rides.
Observation Decks in USA Photo Gallery
New York, NY
• The Empire State Building (www.esbnyc.com) draws more than four million visitors each year. In 2005, the building owners implemented a redesign to make the wait on transport elevators more enjoyable. Visitors are now sent to a modern waiting area on the second floor, rather than to the basement. The 80th and 86th floors were remodeled in 2006.
“The Empire State Building reported in a recent financial statement that it makes about as much money from visitors to its observation deck as if does from tenants’ rent.”
• After closing for four years for a $75 million renovation, the observation deck at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, a 70-story art deco skyscraper, reopened in 2005. Renamed Top of the Rock (www.topoftherocknyc.com), an estimated two million visit annually. Timed ticket reservations minimize wait time for visitors.
• At the Space Needle (www.spaceneedle.com), which rises 605 feet, a ride to the observation platform at the top costs $18. It attracts 1.5 million visitors annually.
The following piers are popular tourist attractions:
• Anglins Fishing Pier (Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, FL; www.boatlessfishing.com/anglins.htm)
• Balboa Pier (Newport Beach, CA; www.visitnewportbeach.com)
• Chelsea Piers (New York, NY; www.chelseapiers.com)
• Cocoa Beach Pier (Cocoa Beach, FL; www.cocoabeachpier.com)
• Crystal Pier (San Diego, CA; www.crystalpier.com)
• Folly Beach Fishing Pier (Folly Beach, SC; www.ccprc.com/index.aspx?NID=66)
• Navy Pier (Chicago, IL; www.navypier.com)
• Newport Pier (Newport Beach, CA; www.visitnewportbeach.com)
• Ocean City Music Pier (Ocean City, NJ; www.ocnj.us/Music-Pier)
• Oceanside’s Pier (Oceanside, CA; http://oceansidehistoricalsociety.org/piers.htm)
• Pacifica Pier (Pacificia, CA; www.pacificapier.com)
• Pier 39 (San Francisco, CA; www.pier39.com)
• Pier 57 (Seattle, WA; no website)
• Santa Monica Pier (Santa Monica; CA; www.santamonicapier.org)
• Skyway Fishing Pier (Tampa, FL; www.floridastateparks.org/skyway/default.cfm)
• Stearns Wharf (Santa Barbara, CA; www.stearnswharf.org)
• Steel Pier (Atlantic City, NJ; www.steelpier.com)
• The Pier (Redondo Beach, CA; www.redondopier.com)
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