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Thrill-seekers looking to take their fear of heights to a new level can come to downtown Los Angeles this summer. There, they can careen down a clear glass slide atop the tallest building west of the Mississippi.
The "Skyslide" is scheduled to begin sending urban adventurers down the relatively brief ride 1,000 feet above the ground in June. It will span 45 feet from the 70th to the 69th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower.
Nothing but inch-and-a-quarter glass separates riders from the ground. The ride promises to provide both a thrill and quite the view for anyone willing to open their eyes along the way.
On a clear day, the 72-story tower provides panoramic views. They can extend to Catalina Island 22 miles off the Pacific Coast and over the Santa Monica Mountains to the city's sprawling San Fernando Valley.
"There will be nothing like it in the U.S.," said Lucy Rumantir. She is head of U.S. operations for the building owner OUE Limited of Singapore.
And that is just the reason for building a giant slide in the sky, Rumantir said.
"When you do something new in LA, you've got to be creative," she said, adding there are already plenty of things to see in the area. But the building owners' thinking goes, that a wild slide through the sky might drive more thrill-seekers downtown rather than to the beaches, Disneyland and other traditional attractions.
Downtown nightlife has exploded in recent years with the addition of upscale hotels, The Broad museum, the LA Live entertainment district and trendy bars and restaurants.
Skyslide also continues a trend of creating attractions designed for urban thrill-seekers. For some reason, they seem eager to laugh in the face of acrophobia.
Grand Canyon Skywalk, the horseshoe-shaped bridge that opened nine years ago, allows visitors to stroll right off the edge of the canyon's north rim. They can stare through 2,000 feet of nothingness to the canyon floor. The Las Vegas Strip's X-Scream roller-coaster sends riders on a wild plunge off the top of the 1,100-foot Stratosphere Hotel and Casino.
Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) renovated its 103rd floor observation deck in 2009. It added all-glass balconies, allowing people to actually step several feet off the ledge.
In Los Angeles, Skyslide is part of a $50 million renovation. It will also put an open-air observation deck and bar on the tower's top floors.
Admission to the Skyspace observation deck will be $25. Tickets to Skyslide will be $8.
Tickets go on sale March 18. Rumantir said the building is already receiving hundreds of calls from people who want to slide.
Asked if she'll actually slide down the thing when it opens, she laughed.
"Oh yeah, of course. We're going to be the ones who actually test the whole thing before it goes public. The risk is on us."
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why will the ride be “relatively brief?”
Write your answers in the comments section below