spider danChicago has had its very own Spiderman! While he did not swing from web to web like the comic book crusader, Spider Dan still did whatever a spider can during his two big climbs in the windy city. On Memorial Day of 1981, Dan Goodwin, also known as Spider Dan, climbed all 110 stories of the Sears Tower. The daredevil completed the death defying stunt not only in opposition to great winds, but also against firefighter interference.

Spider Dan did not complete the climb for his own personal glory and recognition. Rather, the rock climber completed the stunt to showcase the difficulty to escape a skyscraper from the highest floors in case of emergencies. He was inspired after witnessing a fire in the MGM Grand Hotel where 85 people had been killed by the blaze due to smoke inhalation on the highest floors where guests could not escape. Dan wanted to prove that despite the efforts firefighters put forward, the tallest levels of some buildings could not be reached by design in case of emergencies. Spider Dan’s point came across as, while firefighters tried to stop his ascent to the top, he still completed the 110 story climb on his own. The climb also proved the difficulty of escaping high floors as he completed it with a lot of effort and risk, even using climbing equipment.     

Spider Dan was not done there, however. In the same year he also scaled the 100 stories of the John Hancock Building. Again the fire department desperately tried to stop his ascent. Spider Dan, similar to Spiderman in the comic books, faced backlash from the city’s officials. Finally, impressed by his prowess and in a moment of grace, Mayor Byrne of Chicago at the time called off the fire department. Spider Dan completed two harrowing climbs on Chicago skyscrapers in the same year, showing city dwellers anything is possible if you put your mind to it.