From Chicago to Pittsburgh

United States 2005

We woke early to the sounds of the el-trains making their short trip around The Loop. The few clouds that lingered the night before had disappeared, leaving bright blue skies. It looked like the perfect day to travel 103 stories up to the top of the second tallest building in the world: the Sears Tower. At a quarter-mile (nearly half a kilometre) it was eclipsed only in 1997 by Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers.

The views were spectacular: not only could we see the sprawl of Chicagoland and the expanse of Lake Michigan, but also across four states (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan). Downtown Chicago crouched under us, seventy- and eighty-story buildings sitting far below us.

A short-trip to ground level and we were off again. We said goodbye to Chicago and drove off. Paula did a grand job of driving us through the last part of Illinois, the north coasts of Indiana and Ohio, and western Pennsylvania. Eight hours of driving saw the seemingly never-ending fields actually end, giving way to greenery. As I write this we’re within spitting distance of Pittsburgh in a comfy hotel with Austin Powers in Goldmember on television. Tomorrow we’ll spend some time in the city before heading on to Washington, DC.


I’m no longer sure whether Sears Tower is the tallest, second tallest, third tallest, or fourth tallest building in the world. This Wikipedia article on the world’s tallest structures should help you understand my confusion. Whatever it is, it’s tall.