Falling Ice Closes Streets Near Hancock Center, Willis Tower

Updated 03/08/11 – 6:18 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Streets around two of Chicago’s tallest buildings remained closed to traffic Tuesday evening, due to concerns about falling ice.

No injuries had been reported due to the falling ice from the John Hancock Center or the Willis Tower, although police closed of some streets near both skyscrapers as a precaution.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, on Tuesday morning, ice was falling from the John Hancock Center along the Magnificent Mile.

Around 8:30 a.m., police cordoned off a stretch of Delaware Place between Michigan Avenue and Mies Van Der Rohe Way.

A large chunk of ice missed hitting Song and a CBS 2 photographer when they arrived at the scene.

Before police arrived to block off streets around the Hancock Center, witnesses said some pedestrians were protecting themselves by holding briefcases or purses over their heads so they wouldn’t get hit.

“I was running over here to make sure I didn’t get hit by it,” Pedestrian Rich Leib said. “It was a little scary because I had a business partner whose daughter just got hit by one of these and was in the hospital three weeks at school in Connecticut. So, that’s why I knew to start looking up every time it was coming down and I saw quite a bit.”

Tuesday afternoon, police also closed streets near the Willis Tower. Northbound Wacker Drive was closed between Jackson Boulevard and Adams Street, police said.

Last Tuesday, two people were hurt when large chunks of ice fell near the Willis Tower.

An off-duty Chicago paramedic was hit by a falling chunk of ice near Monroe and Franklin streets as he was helping a woman whose car had been hit by falling ice.

The paramedic suffered a large gash to his head and was hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Another person was also injured by falling ice that afternoon.

Falling ice is a common problem in downtown Chicago in the winter, a hazard caused by warmer temperatures thawing the ice clinging to skyscrapers.

Due to the height of some buildings and the strength of wind gusts in downtown Chicago, the ice can sometimes hit the ground a long distance away from the building where it fell.

(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report)

  • JeanSC

    Architects should see if there is any practical solution to this falling-ice problem. Meanwhile, sturdy arcades all around these buildings could well become part of the design of new ones. But that doesn’t make it safe to cross the streets around them.
    Keep your hard hats on, folks!

  • Hirosh

    Ice holders should be installed all around the talll buidings so people who are on the street will not have to worry about ice falling on their heads.
    A hole on your head will land you in a hospital for a long long time.
    This ice holders should be mandatory for all buidings that have a tendency to send ice on to the street.

  • Dan Phillips

    Folks, the wind blows the ice a looong way from the buildings it falls off of. What do you want, a net over all of downtown Chicago? Life if a risk, if being in a city where ice MAY fall on you is something you can’t handle move to a nice small rural town that has mostly 1 or 2 story buildings. In a nutshell, quit whining!!

    Da Yooper

  • Did You Evah

    Practical solution… Only build in Florida. Watch the skies!!!.

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