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John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center.
General information
Location 875 N. Michigan Avenue Chicago, Illinois USA
Status Complete
Constructed 1965-1970[1]
Use mixed use
Antenna or spire 1,500 ft (457 m)
Roof 1,127 ft (344 m)
Top floor 1,078 ft (329 m)
Technical details
Floor count 100
Floor area 2,799,973 ft² (260,126 m²)
Elevators 42, made by Otis Elevator Company[2]
Companies involved
Architect(s) Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
Contractor Tishman Construction Co.
Developer John Hancock Insurance

John Hancock Center at 875 North Michigan Avenue in the Gold Coast area of Chicago, Illinois, is a 100-story, 1,127-foot[3] (344 m) tall skyscraper, constructed under the supervision of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill,[3] with chief designer and structural engineer Fazlur Khan[4] and Bruce Graham. When the building topped out on May 6, 1968,[1] it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is currently the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the sixth-tallest in the United States, after the Willis Tower, the Empire State Building, the Bank of America Tower, the Trump Tower Chicago, and the Aon Center. When measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,506 feet (459 m).[5] The building is home to offices and restaurants, as well as about 700 condominiums and contains the highest-up residences in the world.[6] This skyscraper was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, a developer and original tenant of the building.[7]

The 95th floor has long been home to a restaurant, the latest tenant being "The Signature Room on the 95th Floor." While patrons dine, they can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The Hancock Center's observation deck facilities (called the Hancock Observatory) compete with the Willis Tower's Skydeck across town. The Hancock Center is in a commercial district, while the Willis Tower is in the financial district. The Hancock Center 94th floor observation deck displays exhibits about the city of Chicago. Maps explain the view in each direction and a special meshed-in area allows the visitors to feel the winds 1,030 feet (314 m) above ground level. The observation deck also features an audio guide narrated by actor David Schwimmer.[8] The 44th-floor sky lobby features America's highest indoor swimming pool.[9]



The John Hancock Center was erected on the site of Cap Streeter's 19th century steamboat shanty. The area is called Streeterville after him, and consists of landfill reclaimed from the lake.

Construction of the tower was briefly halted in 1967 due to a credit crunch experienced by the builder, briefly leaving the building in a truncated form approximately 20 stories high. This situation is similar to the one currently being experienced with the construction of Waterview Tower.

The building's first resident was Ray Heckla, the original building engineer, responsible for the residential floors from 44-92. Ray and his family moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in April 1969 before the building was completed.

On November 11, 1981, Veterans Day, high-rise firefighting and rescue advocate Dan Goodwin, for the purpose of calling attention to the inability to rescue people trapped in the upper floors of skyscrapers, successfully climbed the outside of the John Hancock Center. Wearing a wetsuit and using a climbing device that enabled him to ascend the I-beams on the building's side, Goodwin battled repeated attempts by the Chicago Fire Department to knock him off. Fire Commissioner William Blair ordered Chicago firemen to stop Goodwin by directing a fully engaged fire hose at him and by blasting fire axes through nearby glass from the inside. Fearing for Goodwin's life, Mayor Jane Byrne intervened and allowed him to continue to the top.[10][11][12]

The John Hancock Center was featured in the 1988 movie Poltergeist III.

On December 18, 1997, comedian Chris Farley was found dead in his apartment on the 60th floor of the John Hancock Center.[13][14]

On March 9, 2002, part of a scaffold fell 43 stories after being torn loose by wind gusts around 60 mph (100 km/h), crushing several cars and killing three people in two of them. The remaining part of the stage swung back-and-forth in the gusts repeatedly slamming against the building, damaging cladding panels, breaking windows, and sending pieces onto the street below.

On December 10, 2006, the non-residential portion of the building was sold by San Francisco based Shorenstein Properties LLC for $385 million and was purchased by Goldman Sachs. Shorenstein had bought the building in 1998 for $220 million.

An annual stair climb race up the 94 floors from the Michigan Avenue level to the observation deck called Hustle up the Hancock is held on the last Sunday of February. The climb benefits the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. The record time as of 2008 is 9 minutes 38 seconds.

On April 16, 2009 at 6:00AM CDT, WYCC-TV transmitting off the John Hancock switched to all-digital broadcasting, becoming Chicago's first television station to stop broadcasting in an analog signal.[15] WCIU-TV is one of only two Chicago market full-power television stations which broadcast from the top of the John Hancock Center. The other is WGBO-DT, while all of the other area stations broadcast from the top of the Willis Tower.

Jerry Springer, host of The Jerry Springer Show, maintains a residence on the 91st floor.[16] Prior to Chris Farley's death, the two lived in adjacent residences.


The John Hancock Center

One of the most famous buildings of the structural expressionist style, the skyscraper's distinctive X-bracing exterior is actually a hint that the structure's skin is indeed part of its 'tubular system'. This idea is one of the architectural techniques the building used to climb to record heights (the tubular system is essentially the spine that helps the building stand upright during wind and earthquake loads). This X-bracing allows for both higher performance from tall structures and the ability to open up the inside floorplan (and usable floor space) if the architect desires. Original features such as the skin have made the John Hancock Center an architectural icon. It was pioneered by Bangladeshi-American structural civil engineer Fazlur Khan and chief architect Bruce Graham. Unlike the Willis Tower, the building's antenna masts are the same height, which gives the building a much more symmetrical appearance, despite several similarities in the design of the two buildings.

The interior was remodeled in 1995, adding to the lobby travertine and textured limestone surfaces. The elliptical-shaped plaza outside the building serves as a public oasis with seasonal plantings and a 12-foot (3.7 m) waterfall. A band of white lights at the top of the building is visible all over Chicago at night and changes colors for different events. For example, at Christmas time the colors are green and red. When a sports team goes far in the playoffs, the colors change, too. When the Chicago Bears made the Super Bowl the colors were blue and orange.

The building is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. It also has won various awards for its distinctive style, including the Distinguished Architects Twenty-five Year Award from the American Institute of Architects in May 1999.


Including its antennas, the John Hancock Center has a height of 1,500 feet (457 m), making it the fifth-tallest building in the world when measured to pinnacle height (after Burj Khalifa, Willis Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and Taipei 101).

The Skydeck elevators of the John Hancock center, manufactured by Otis, travel 94 floors at a top speed of 1800 ft/min (20.5 mph).

As seen from the Willis Tower. Lake Michigan is seen in backdrop

Tenants and businesses

Position in Chicago's skyline

311 South Wacker Willis Tower Chicago Board of Trade Building 111 South Wacker AT&T Corporate Center Kluczynski Federal Building CNA Center Chase Tower Three First National Plaza Mid-Continental Plaza Richard J. Daley Center Chicago Title and Trust Center 77 West Wacker Pittsfield Building Leo Burnett Building The Heritage at Millennium Park Smurfit-Stone Building IBM Plaza One Prudential Plaza Two Prudential Plaza Aon Center Blue Cross and Blue Shield Tower 340 on the Park Park Tower Olympia Centre 900 North Michigan John Hancock Center Water Tower Place Harbor Point The Parkshore North Pier Apartments Lake Point Tower Jay Pritzker Pavilion Buckingham Fountain Lake Michigan Lake Michigan Lake Michigan The skyline of a city with many large skyscrapers; in the foreground are a green park and a lake with many sailboats moored on it. Over 30 of the skyscrapers and some park features are labeled.

See also


  1. ^ a b "John Hancock Observatory – At a Glance". Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  2. ^ "John Hancock Center Chicago". Chicago Architecture. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  3. ^ a b "John Hancock Center". Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  4. ^ p. 422, American Architecture: A History, Leland M. Roth, Westview Press, 2003, ISBN 0813336627
  5. ^ "The John Hancock Center : 875 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois". Chicago Architecture Info. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  6. ^ "The John Hancock Center". Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  7. ^ "John Hancock Insurance" (in Russian). Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  8. ^ "Hancock Observatory tour, Schwimmer included". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Headliners Higher and Higher Published: November 15, 1981 New York Times
  12. ^ "Vintage Footage of Spiderman Scaling the John Hancock Center". Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  13. ^ "Chris Farley: Trivia". CNET Networks, Inc.. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  14. ^ "Chicago Ghosts". Chicago Hauntings Tours. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Jerry Springer Fights For Employees In Move To Stamford". Courant. 2009-03-13.,0,6173386.story. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  17. ^ "New Best Buy Opens in John Hancock Center on Chicago's Famous Magnificent Mile". Yahoo! News. 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  18. ^ a b c "John Hancock Center Chicago". Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  19. ^ "Our offices." (Select United States of America) Etihad Airways. Retrieved on 11 February 2010.
  20. ^ "Chicago." Qatar Airways. Retrieved on February 9, 2009.
  21. ^ "Oficinas Consulares en Estados Unidos." Embassy of Chile in Washington, D.C. Retrieved on January 31, 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 41°53′56″N 87°37′23″W / 41.8988°N 87.6230°W / 41.8988; -87.6230

Preceded by
Richard J. Daley Center
Tallest building in Chicago
344 m
Succeeded by
Aon Center
Preceded by
Prudential Tower
Tallest building in the United States outside of New York City
344 m

Simple English

John Hancock Center
General information
Location Chicago
File:Flag of the United
United States
Status Complete
Constructed 1969
Antenna or spire 344 m (1,127 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 100

John Hancock Center is a skyscraper in Chicago, United States. It is 344 meters (1,127 feet) tall and has 100 floors. It was built in 1969 and is one of the tallest buildings in the world

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