What would a St. Louis-Chicago comparison be without a breakdown of the cities' two internationally known phallic symbols?
Originally designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947, the Gateway Arch took more than two years to construct between February 1963 and October 1965. Sheathed in glistening stainless steel -- much of which came from Northwest Indiana -- the 630-foot structure is the tallest monument in the Western Hemisphere and feature attraction of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Cramped five-seat capsules take visitors to the observation deck at the structure's apex. And it's all worth it once you get a chance to take the panorama views of the greater St. Louis metro area. Still, acrophobes beware: It's a bit wobbly up there on a windy day.
At 1,451 feet, Willis Tower is the taller of the two structures. In fact, the 108-story skyscraper held the title as the tallest building in the world for nearly 25 years -- back when it went by the name Sears Tower. The impetus for its construction came from Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s desire to bring all of its Chicago employees under one roof on the western edge of the Loop. Sears was the largest retailer in the world at the time (1969), but has since shrunk considerably, hence to the eventual name change in 2009. Designed as a 3-by-3 matrix of square tubes by Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan, the Tower went through multiple lawsuits and three years of construction before it was finally completed in 1973. A trip up to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor should be required of all Windy City residents.
Edge: The Arch. It's not the size, it's what you do with it.