My hands are still slightly sweaty at the memory of standing on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, 1,000 feet over Chicago, and doing the last thing a reasonable person would want to do: tilting towards the ground.
This was at the unveiling of TILT, the new enclosed glass and steel movable observation box at 360 Chicago, engineered by the firm Thornton Tomasetti, which opens to the public Saturday, May 10 at 9 a.m.
Here’s what it’s like: I step into one of eight slots. Looking down, Matchbox cars zip along Michigan Avenue. Lake Michigan is a lovely cerulean blue. Then, there’s a whir that sounds like an airplane’s engines firing up. I grab the handles on the floor-to-ceiling windows in front of me, as the platform I’m standing on starts, well, tilting. I grip the bars tighter.
After what seems like an eternity, it pauses. There’s something completely irrational in my mind that is convinced that I’m making it move, and if I don’t stand completely still, all eight of us may fall to our deaths. Which is weird, because I actually didn’t expect the view to freak me out. But, as it moves again, I’m just a smidge freaked.
Pause. I grip the bars tighter, my arms holding me back. “Not such a terrible workout,” I think, gazing at my non-existent arm muscles, looking at my white-knuckled hands, looking at anything by the game of urban Frogger going on below.
And it starts moving again, this time at its fullest angle of about 30 degrees. It may not sound like much, but when you’re in that box, looking 1,000 feet down, hearing that jet-like whir, it’s enough to give those palms a little glaze, for what feels like the longest 30 seconds of your day.