The John Hancock observatory and Signature Room offer among the best views in Chicago. On a clear day, the views from this skyscraper are quite breathtaking, towering over all of downtown Chicago, the Loop, the River, Navy Pier, and more. You can see many of the iconic Chicago sites from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
I think you might have to pay to actually enter the J.H. observatory, so a nice way to get the view but avoid paying an entrance fee is to order something (appetizers, drinks) at the Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the building. That way, you can get the view and some snacks!
I've been to the Signature Room twice. Once, it was a beautiful and clear day, but on my second visit, it was quite foggy. On a foggy day, it's just not quite the same...
The John Hancock building is located North of the Chicago river. At the top is the Hancock Observatory that gives outstanding 360 degree views of the city. The skywalk is located 94 stories up and is open air. Although it's open air there is no chance of falling, rails and screens are in place to prevent that. Should it be cold outside, you can opt to skip the skywalk part and still enjoy the 360 degree views from inside. There are lots of signs inside that point out landmarks and let you know a little about the history of what you are looking at.
It was a great quick stop on our touring and really gave an excellent aerial view of Chicago.
The 100-story John Hancock Center was completed in 1969 and at 344 m tall, it is currently the third highest building in Chicago. The Hancock Observatory is located on the 94th floor of the building and offers a great view of downtown Chicago. At $15, tickets are a bit more expensive than those at the more popular Sears Tower's Skydeck, but it's usually less crowded (there was no line-up at all when I showed up). The elevator ride to the observatory lasts 40 seconds, and there's a funny pre-recorded message that helps take your mind off the fact that you're traveling at 32 km/h. Once you reach the Observatory, you can walk around the floor to take pictures, although I was a bit disappointed to find out that it's nearly impossible to take pictures on the skywalk, the only portion of the floor that is screened. Everywhere else there are windows, which makes taking night pics quite difficult if you've got an automatic camera like mine. The good news is that for an extra $3, your ticket can give you access to the Observatory the next day if you want to take both day and night shots. Another nice feature of the Observatory is that there is some interesting information about the history of Chicago along the walls, as well as a souvenir store.
The Hancock Observatory is open every day from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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: http://www.signatureroom.com/
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.
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.