John Hancock Center, Chicago

4.5 out of 5 stars 102 Reviews

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  • John Hancock Tower
    John Hancock Tower
    by bladedragon
  • Lake Michigan shoreline toward the north
    Lake Michigan shoreline toward the north
    by Bwana_Brown
  • View from the John Hancock Observatory
    View from the John Hancock Observatory
    by xoxoxenophile
  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo

    Check out the view from the John Hancock tower

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Sep 12, 2008

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I really enjoyed my little excursion to the top of the John Hancock Center! After attending a technical session on the opening day of the IEEE convention, there was nothing on for me in the afternoon so I took a shuttle back to my hotel and then quickly walked north to where this 3rd tallest of Chicago's skyscrapers is located.

    Having read that it can be cheaper as well as more enjoyable to skip the 94th floor observation deck in favour of the 96th floor Signature Lounge cocktail bar, I marched through the lobby to the special elevators that will whisk you straight to the top! Another gentleman turned up as well, just before the elevator arrived, so I hit the Signature Room button and off we went. However, on the short journey up I realized that would take me to the 95th floor restaurant, so I also punched the button for the Signature Lounge. The gentleman asked me if that was where the good views were and I said it was - being the big expert! We chatted a bit as we continued upward, turned out he was from France and had been teaching history in Quebec, so I asked him to join me for a beer while we enjoyed the views from our window seat in the Lounge.

    We had a great spot looking out toward the south where all the major skyscrapers are located and also took a stroll to the north side where we saw the Oak Street Beach along Lake Michigan's shore (2nd photo) as well as looked down onto the 871-foot 66 story Bloomingdale's skyscraper (3rd photo). The service in the Lounge was very fast and friendly as we relaxed in plush seating, sipping on Guinness and Heiniken beers as we discussed quite a number of things. It was a great way to spend an hour or so and the beer wasn't all that expensive either at $9 - especially since it costs $12 just to get into the Observation Deck!

    Looking south - Sears Tower at distant right Lake Michigan shoreline toward the north Looking down on Bloomingdale's skyscraper A Guinness in the Signature Lounge My French pal (right) & I  sat down at the far end
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  • bladedragon's Profile Photo

    John Hancock Observatory

    by bladedragon Written Aug 22, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you buy city pass, you gotta choose between John Hancock Observatory and Sears Tower.
    If you want to go both, here's a good way:
    Use the city pass to go to Sears Tower and enjoy a dinner during sunset at the restaurant in John Hancock Tower.

    John Hancock Tower Dinner at the Signature Room 95th floor View from top (Sears Tower in background) Sunset Sunset

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    The Hancock Observatory

    by apbeaches Written Jul 28, 2008

    We were looking forward to a magnificant lunch at the Signature Restaurant at the top of the Hancock Building. However, we enjoyed the spectacular views from the Hancock Observatory instead. The audio tape gave a good background of what we were looking at.

    The 100 - story building, completed in 1969, has a remarkable design, with the huge X-braces serving both a structural and visual purpose.

    View of the Hancock Building from our hotel The Water Tower is below
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  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo

    Very solidly built

    by Bwana_Brown Updated May 11, 2008

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    According to Wikipedia, the 100-story John Hancock Center is 1,127-feet (344 m) tall, making it the 3rd tallest building in Chicago and fifth the United States. If you count its two large communications antennae, its height tops out at 1,500-feet. When it was completed in 1969, before the days of rampant 'I can build mine taller than yours', it was the world's tallest building outside of New York City. Today, the building houses offices, restaurants and the world's highest condominiums.

    I made special note of the heavily reinforced look of its exterior (2nd and 3rd photos), with X-braces climbing up the side of the building to give it extra structural strength. I still remember the problems the John Hancock Insurance Company had with its 60-story all-glass exterior tower built in Boston in 1976. Whenever the winds exceeded 45-mph, large 4x11-ft panes of glass weighing 500-lbs had a nasty habit of popping out to fall hundreds of feet to the sidewalks below! Another little problem was the tendency of the top floors to sway in the wind giving that motion sickness feeling to their tenants. While investigating these various problems, it was also discovered that a certain type of wind shear could cause the entire structure to fall over. In the end, the glass panes all had to be replaced with stronger types, two 300-ton mass-dampers had to be installed on the 58th floor to counteract the forces of the wind and steel cross-braces similar to these exterior ones in Chicago had to be added to reinforce the frame of the building. Altogether, it was an architectural nightmare that cost the company more than a $100 million to fix.

    My first view of the distant John Hancock Center We were up there, almost to the 100th floor A solidly braced structure!
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  • seasonedveteran's Profile Photo

    The Hancock! BOOYAA

    by seasonedveteran Written Mar 29, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Providing arguably better views and smaller lines certainly than Sears tower, this should be at the top of your to do list. Insiders tip is to wait in line to be seated at Signatures, the bar at the 95 floor, so for around 8 dollers, you get a drink AND the great views to snap away at. I think its a no brainer.

    You can get the view of the buildings that gains insight into the designers vision, as you see the penitentiary, which is in the shape of a triangle for each of checking the inmates in one round, the gold gilded Carbon and Carbide tower, the Sears Tower of course!, and countless others. My favourite was one i cant describe lol. But have fun choosing your favourite.

    at the base is the historical Water tower which is the sole survivor from the great fire, and ralph lauran Store, which is must see inside; it has so much oak furniture and antiquiteies from haughty English class, and Fox hunting , polo playing chaps. lol

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  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo

    The New Hancock Observatory

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Dec 13, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Hancock Observatory offers the best view in Chicago, including that from the somewhat taller Sears Tower. Looking down - and out - from 1, 000 feet up is simply mezmerising, On a clear day one can see for eighty miles and into four states. More than just a pretty view, we found our visit to the observatory to be an unforgetable experience.

    Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

    View from the Top, Looking North

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    Head to the Signature Room instead

    by monica71 Written Sep 17, 2007

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    Here is a tip: if you want to have great views of Chicago from the Hancock tower/building, just head straight to the Signature Room instead of the observatory. You can beat the lines and instead of paying $10, pay $12 for a good Martini and great views of Chicago. Go here anyday from 11am to midnight and you can not ask for a better view of the city! Check out their website for more information:

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  • traveloturc's Profile Photo

    John Hancock Center

    by traveloturc Updated Aug 6, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Build in 1965 - 1969 with the height of 344,0m with 100 floors.Highest multifunctional skyscraper in the world.Tallest Chicago building from 1968 until 1973.
    The John Hancock Center is one of Chicago's most well-known buildings. It is the 12th tallest building in the world with 100 floors, including apartments, offices, shops, a hotel, an ice rink, restaurants, its own post office, and radio and television facilities. The observation deck is a top attraction for visitors. The famous Signature Room restaurant is located on the 95th & 96th floors.Which I have the chance to eat there. The John Hancock Center was completed in 1969 and features a tapered design for structural and space efficiency.

    John Hancock tower

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  • sabogg01's Profile Photo

    A Great Trip to the Top of the John Hancock

    by sabogg01 Written Aug 4, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We recently returned from our trip to Chicago and had a wonderful time at the John Hancock Observatory. The day was perfect! The views were wonderful! We went on a Wednesday at around 2PM and there was only about 3 people in line ahead of us. I did not go to the Sears Tower so I cannot complain but it seems that the Hancock is in a better location to offer the best view. I am so glad to have chose the Hancock.

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  • Cocktails

    by reenby Written Jul 23, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    First of all forget the Sears tower, the John Hancock is so much striking. It may be a bit smaller but at those heights I dont think you will notice.

    There is a charge to visit the viewing gallery, but instead visit in the evening and take the fast elevator up to the cocktail bar. For the price of a cocktail you get to see Chicago all lit up at night and a cocktail to enjoy as well

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  • chagi1's Profile Photo

    Watch the sunset from signature lounge

    by chagi1 Written May 19, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    One of the highlights of our first day in Chicago was to watch the sunset from the 95th floor in the John Hancock center.
    Like most of the Chicago natives will tell you, it is well worth going to the lounge and buying a drink rather than just going to the observatory. We would also have to agree!
    A ticket to the observatory alone is about $10 and drinks at the lounge run about the same.
    A non alcoholic drink, such as the one I had "Easy Street Martini" is $7.50, a beer is roughly $8 and we ended up having an appetizer of chicken tenders $11 while waiting for the sun to set.

    One recommendation is to get there a little before the sunset. We actually arrived a good hour before the sunset and slowly enjoyed our drinks and appetizer. The lounge quickly fills up around sunset and in the evening and getting there late you may risk not having a good seat, let alone a seat at all.

    Women, do check out the washroom, there is a gorgeous view even from the washroom, sorry gentlemen, no view from your washroom!

    Going around sunset you get the bonus of enjoying the view in the daytime and after the sun sets in the evening. The sunsetting itself was gorgeous!!

    If you wish to enjoy a dinner at the restaurant, reservations are recommended, especially on weekends or holidays.

    City view from Hancock center Sunset from the John Hancock building Navy Pier Chicago city evening view

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  • Glorija's Profile Photo

    Great new year experience

    by Glorija Updated Apr 10, 2007

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I had the opportunity to swim in, I have no clue which floor, pool on New year`s Eve. And for every nice experience that night I must thank Richard Salt & Kaye! This really is a place interesting to see. And I still cannot imagine how many people live in that building ;)

    Known locally as 'Big John', the John Hancock Center is probably the Chicagoans favorite skyscraper. The 100 - story building, completed in 1969, has a remarkable design, with the huge X-braces serving both a structural and a visual purpose. Visually, it gives the impression of stability and it moves the eye away from the human-sized windows.

    Building Facts

    Completed in 1970
    100-story mixed-use complex
    896,980 sf of office space
    171,771 sf of retail
    17,371 sf observatory on the 94th floor
    34,307 sf TV and radio broadcast facility
    49 floors of residential condominiums

    Hancock building
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  • Bob_Shan's Profile Photo

    The Hancock Tower

    by Bob_Shan Written Apr 7, 2007

    94 floor is the observatory, 96 floor is signature lounge. Both are indoor space, which is a disaster for photographer, because the glass reflects lights and make it very hard to take good pictures.

    I'd actually recommend skip observatory and enjoy a nice meal in signature lounge.

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  • lisha74's Profile Photo

    Signature Lounge

    by lisha74 Written Apr 7, 2007

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    Skip the observatory (unless you're traveling with children), and instead head up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Building. No charge to go up there, you just have to pay for a slightly overpriced drink (approx. $10). But that's about the price of admission to the observatory, so at least here you're getting a drink out of it! The view is spectacular. I actually prefer the view here to that from the Sears Tower. Here you're right on the lakeshore, where the Sears Tower is further in. Plus the Sears Tower is SO tall it makes most things unrecognizable without binoculars. In the Hancock you have no problem distinguishing the city sights.

    View up the north shore from the Signature Lounge

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  • skatzcatz's Profile Photo

    John Hancock Centre

    by skatzcatz Updated Mar 18, 2007

    The John Hancock Centre stands 1127 feet tall abd offers a great panaroma of the surrounding area around Chicago. Although somewhat expensive it's still worth the trip up the worlds fastest elevator for the views.

    The Hancock Observatory is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (last ticket sold at 10:45 p.m.)


    Adults (13-61) - $10.25*

    Seniors (62+) - $8.00*

    Children (5 to 12) - $6.50*

    Children (4 and under) FREE

    Views from Hancock Centre Views from Hancock Centre
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