Chicago - John Hancock Center

Date Added: March 28, 2007 03:43:06 PM
Category: Regional: United States Of America: Chicago
Not the tallest building in Chicago, but surely one of the finest anywhere. With its distinctive twin aerials on top and X-shaped braces along the facade, this slightly trapezoidal 100-story building is an architectural marvel. Completed in 1969, it's hard to imagine it not having always been a part of the Chicago skyline.

Architecturally unique, it's a sight to behold even from the ground. But the Hancock offers visitors one of the best observatories anywhere in the country. Providing one of the finest views of one of the finest skylines anywhere, on a clear day you'll see all of Chicago and a whole lot more.

There are plenty of clear days in Chicago, too. It isn't called the Windy City for nothing. Those clear skies make possible great views of the award winning buildings in one of America's premier cities. You can also see for dozens of miles and get a sense of the prairie from which it sprang by looking out over Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

The Signature Room and Lounge on the 95th and 96th floors are aptly named, as well. Patrons can dine on some of the best food in Chicago while they watch the view. Hit the lounge to enjoy some great jazz, then head down to the observatory one floor below.

The observation deck offers displays that explain the building's unusual construction and much about Chicago itself. Be sure to spend some time at the wall - 80-feet high - displaying over 100 photos of the history of Chicago. You can take advantage, too, of the Windows on Chicago display that shows you dozens of the most popular tourist spots in the city.

From a meshed area visitors can feel the famous wind at 1,030 feet that gives the city its nickname. Be prepared. The winds are sometimes so strong that 60 mph (98 km/h) gusts in March of 2002 tore loose a scaffold, which fell and crushed several cars.

There's a skylobby at the 44th floor that has America's highest indoor swimming pool. Take a dip and enjoy the view out the window at the same time. Other parts of the interior have been remodeled and the lobby is also a sight to see with its textured limestone surfaces.

The elliptical plaza at the base completes the tour where you can enjoy the plants that reflect the changing seasons of this mid-west city. Be sure to look up at night to see the band of white lights around the top, illuminating one of Chicago's architectural icons.

Located at 875 N. Michigan Ave in downtown's Magnificent Mile, you'll find plenty of other attractions nearby. The high speed elevator can carry you to the top in 40 seconds (they travel at 1,800 feet per minute). But be prepared for a wait for tickets and to take the trip up. 'Big John' is very popular.

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