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The Sears Tower has Gone Hollywood

July 19, 2009

If it is difficult to stay famous when you are a mass of steel and glass, someone forgot to tell the Sears Tower. The iconic Chicago skyscraper has been in the news for a variety of reasons in recent months and seems to be forcing its way back into the limelight yet again.

By taking a page out of Hollywood’s book, the Sears Tower has remained relevant with a series of clever ploys. The tower has seemingly transformed into some type of celebrity-addicted fame whore — and I, for one, am saddened by this present existence of what was once was a source pride for a blue-collar city.

Since 1973, the Sears Tower has stood somber on its trendy downtown Chicago lot. It was, at one point, the world’s tallest building, but was soon bypassed by man’s next oversized project. To date, there are three structures that claim to be taller than the Sears Tower and this has no doubt hurt the once proud Midwestern institution.

For years, no one paid attention to the structure. It was a lesson in humility until the Sears Tower decided to make a comeback.

In May of 2009, the Sears Tower announced that it would offer a unique brand of observation deck. The Skydeck was born and it offered sightseers a glass-bottom floor that jetted out over the bustling Chicago streets. It was ideal for people who love city views, but just couldn’t get nauseous enough from looking out the window.

Apparently pedestrian panic attacks didn’t have the legs to keep the Sears Tower in the news for long, so a month later the 110-story conservationist’s nightmare jumped on the green-wagon. The building promised a $350 million facelift to become more energy efficient. Now the PR machine was cooking with gas (natural gas, apparently) as they promised to cut electricity by 80 percent.

Things were going great for the structure. People were buzzing, media was friendly and the Sears Tower was once again significant.

Now comes this week’s bombshell.

On Thursday the Sears Tower officially changed its name to Willis Tower. Yes, it’s true. In a ceremony on South Wacker Drive in front of the skyscraper, Willis Holding Group – a London-based insurance broker – took control of the naming rights of one of America’s most recognizable structures.

So in yet another bid to stay in the news, the  Sears Tower sells out. The move reeks of desperation. The building was right where it wanted to be… cutting edge, forward-thinking and progressive.

But what’s done is done and the American icon known in name as the Sears Tower is no more. I only wish someone had told the Sears Tower that name changes rarely work?  Ask Cat Stevens.

That’s right, I called him Cat Stevens.

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