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John Hancock Center | Construction, Location & Observation Deck

Instructor: Pablo Torroella

Pablo Torroella has a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University, majoring in Political Science and minoring in History. He also has a Master of Fine Arts from Art Center College of Design where his concentration was Broadcast Cinema (Film).

Learn about the John Hancock Center, which is now 875 North Michigan Avenue. Study the history of the John Hancock Building, also called the John Hancock Tower. Updated: 02/03/2023

What is the John Hancock Center?

The John Hancock Center is a skyscraper building that can be found in Chicago, Illinois. The John Hancock Center comprises numerous company offices, hundreds of condominiums, and multiple restaurants. The building was originally named after the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, which has since vacated. Consequently, the name of the building has become 875 North Michigan Avenue, its official street address.

Location of the John Hancock Building in Chicago

The building is located in The Magnificent Mile section of Michigan Avenue, a district known as one of the city's major avenues, which runs from the Chicago River to Oak Street. The name derives from the stores and residences catering to the affluent and is home to museums, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores. Department stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, J. Crew, Marc Jacobs, Saint Laurent, and Bloomingdales are situated in the district. Large shopping centers such as the Water Tower Place, 900 North Michigan Shops, and The Shops at North Bridge also inhabit the area.

Map of Downtown Chicago and location of Michigan Avenue

Color map of Chicago. Image shows downtown Chicago.

Michigan Avenue also contains various sites significant to the city, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park. The avenue was named directly after Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes adjacent to Chicago. In the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1871, the avenue was severely damaged. In the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Michigan Avenue underwent serious development, whereupon its commercial character took shape. Michigan Avenue is well known for being home to other tall properties. In 1921, the Wrigley Building, constructed to house the Wrigley Company, was built. The Warwick Allerton Hotel opened in 1924, and the Tribune Tower, the original home of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, was finished in 1925.

Characteristics of the John Hancock Building

The John Hancock Center stands at 1,128 feet and comprises 100 stories. The floor area is a total of 2,799,973 square feet, and there are 50 operating elevators. When originally completed, the skyscraper was the tallest building in Chicago and the second tallest in the country, falling behind the Empire State Building in New York City. Architecturally speaking, the John Hancock Center is a product of the structural expressionist style, a design method that fuses high technology with architecture that became popular in the 1970s. The skyscraper is notable for exhibiting a structural X-bracing along each side, an engineering practice allowing for more interior space.

The John Hancock Center

Color image of John Hancock Center. Building is seen from bottom, looking up.

The building has approximately 700 condominiums and various amenities, such as a conference and fitness center. The businesses presently include Chase Bank, Hanig's Footwear, and The North Face. The John Hancock Center's dining options include restaurants such as The Signature Room, The Cheesecake Factory, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and Benihana. There are also conveniences, like a US Post Office, Fed Ex and UPS drop boxes, dry cleaners, and onsite parking.

The 360 Observation Deck

Occupying a space on the 94th floor of the skyscraper is the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, an observatory area that allows optimal views of the city and the surrounding locale. In 2014, an attraction known as TILT was installed, allowing visitors to experience the views through windows stretching from floor to ceiling as they gradually tilt out of the building itself. The observation deck also houses a full bar entitled CloudBar. Finally, various events are held periodically, including weekly yoga classes, art and photography exhibitions, and the option for private events such as weddings. Tickets are required to visit the observation deck. Immediately above the 360 Chicago Observation Deck is the Signature Room, a restaurant on the 95th floor.

Name Change to 875 North Michigan Avenue

John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, the company for which the skyscraper is named, left the building in 2018. Consequently, John Hancock Insurance asked that its name be removed from all listings and signage associated with the John Hancock Center. In reaction, the building owners officially designated the John Hancock Center as 875 North Michigan Avenue, the skyscraper's Chicago street address.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a reservation for Chicago 360?

Tickets are required to visit the Chicago 360 observation deck. Each of the services provided by Chicago 360 must be purchased with a ticket.

What is the John Hancock building called now?

The John Hancock Center is named 875 North Michigan Avenue. It is the official street address of where the building is located.

Why was the John Hancock Center renamed?

The John Hancock Center was renamed due to the company it was named after, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, vacating the building. In 2018, it was given a new official name.

Why is John Hancock Center famous?

The John Hancock Center is famous for being one of the tallest buildings in the United States. The skyscraper was the second tallest in the country when it was first built.

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