John Hancock Center, the finest building in all of Chicago

Why would I say something so brazen as to proclaim the Hancock the finest building in the city? For many reasons. Here’s two. It took me a while to realize it because I needed some perspective. It hit me while I was on a boat on Lake Michigan. While not by definition, the Hancock is shaped like a pyramid. A wide base and narrowing as the building rises to the top. As the ancient Egyptians showed us, pyramids are an eternal shape, even magical. Second. The Hancock is an architectural wonder. Topping out in 1969, the Hancock Building has influenced every skyscraper since. Fazlur Khan, the architectural engineer is considered something of a genius for this bold building. Bruce Graham was the architect and world beater, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill served as the architectural firm.


You have your John Hancock, this one is mine

Isn’t it something? It represents America to me. A calculated gamble. A few missteps on the way to 1,127 feet. This beast, the most masculine building ever constructed, will celebrate it’s 50th birthday in four years. No gray hair yet. Aay, she’s a beauty. john hancock

Big Brother is Watching

Big Brother is Watching

The Palmolive Building, formerly the Playboy Club back in the sixties cuts a handsome art-deco figure with the John Hancock in the back. Initially property owners on the North Side of Michigan Avenue were furious with the developers of the John Hancock. There are still some negative feelings about it. However, most people are happy to have one of the two iconic buildings of the city in neighborhood. Most of the skyscrapers, including the Sears Tower are located in the far more populated business section of the city called the “Loop.”

Those little antenna towers atop the John Hancock

Those little antenna towers atop the John Hancock

To say the antenna atop the John Hancock building are stout is like saying water is wet. One is 30 stories tall, the other 25. Radio and TV stations across Chicago have a dish on one of these towers. Do not ask how I made it on the roof and asking me about climbing the first 50 feet of the tower is off the table completely. What’s good for me ain’t necessarily good for the weak minded.

John Hancock – Chicago

John Hancock - Chicago

When clouds drift across the top 100 feet of the John Hancock Building a reverse draft is created on the opposite side of the building where a plume of cloud will often circle and re-circle in the same general area for minutes at a time or until a breeze from a different direction hits the building. It’s especially interesting looking from inside the building on the observation deck. There may be beautiful blue skies on three sides of the building and then what looks like a storm brewing on the fourth side. The Hancock may not create weather, but it alters it at 1,100 feet. On the next partly cloudy day with a mild wind, look up and watch something remarkable. Besides, it’s a good neck stretch.

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