District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
October 19, 2004
Getting There: Exit MetroRail's red line at the Main St. Square station. Walk north on Main St. several blocks to Capitol St. Turn west on Capitol and walk to Travis St. The JPMorgan Chase Tower will be on the north side of Capitol, between Travis and Milam Streets. The front entrance to the building faces the intersection of Capitol and Milam.
Hours: Open Monday-Friday during regular business hours. Closed holidays and weekends.
The JPMorgan Chase Tower Sky Lobby is not one fo the city's most famous attractions, but it should be. The 75 floor tower is the tallest building in Houston and until LA's Library Tower was built (it's only 16 feet taller), it was the tallest building in the country west of the Mississippi. Originally the Chase Tower was planned to be 80 floors, but the FAA objected, fearing it was pose a hazard for airplanes approaching Hobby Airport. Even with its scaled-back design, the Chase Tower is an amazing structure, and the tallest five-sided building anywhere in the world.
The free Sky Lobby observation deck provides incredible views of downtown Houston's famous skyline, as well as the Port of Houston to the east; Midtown, Hermann Park, and Texas Medical Center to the south; and Allen Parkway, Buffalo Bayou, Memorial Dr., River Oaks, and the Uptown/Galleria area to the west. The lobby's floor to ceiling windows allow visitors to get full panoramic views of the landscape below. I must say that it's an incredible experience to look down on downtown's skyscrapers from the Sky Lobby. At this height, only the tops of the Wells Fargo and One Shell Plaza towers will be higher than where you're standing. At the bottom of the windows, air conditioning grates on the floor "give" a little when you step up to the window. It’s not unusual for first-time visitors to step on a grate and suddenly grab someone standing next to them in an instinctual reaction to stop their "fall." This happened to me on my first visit, and the feeling is quite unsettling.
The Sky Lobby is accessed by several express elevators that provide nonstop trips from the ground floor to the Sky Lobby on the 60th floor in just 41 seconds. The trip is so fast that the elevators tend to vibrate back and forth in their shaft some and you get a real sense of speed, especially as the elevator takes off from the ground floor on the trip up. Forty seconds after the trip begins, the elevator rapidly decelerates and comes to a smooth stop, and as the doors open the Sky Lobby’s stunning view is revealed.
The Sky Lobby is well worth a visit if you’re downtown on during regular business hours on a weekday. Unfortunately the observation deck is not open to the public on nights and weekends, denying many visitors the opportunity to experience the greatest view in the city, and the opportunity to see the city at night from this vantage point.
From journal Tour Houston By MetroRail