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John Hancock Center – USA

The John Hancock Center is one of the most important skyscrapers in America.  It is not the tallest skyscraper in the country nor is it the tallest in the magnificent city of Chicago, but it enjoys a very unique stature.


John Hancock Insurance Company commissioned the building in the late 1960's.  They chose the prestigious architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill to do the design.  This would prove to be a very wise choice later on in the building's life.  When completed in 1969, it was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City at 1,127 feet in height (100 stories).


Today, the John Hancock Center has fallen behind to larger structures like the Sears Tower.  It is now the 3rd tallest skyscraper in Chicago and the fourth largest in the United States.  Despite being dwarfed by the bigger Sears Tower, the John Hancock Center has a better location in the heart of downtown Chicago.  Many offices and tourists prefer the John Hancock Center for this reason because it affords better views of the city than the distant Sears Tower on the edge of the downtown area.

The building has a slightly tapered shape, with the top being only slightly thinner than the base.  On its exterior, the John Hancock Center has distinctive cross-bracings that eliminate the need for interior stiffeners.  This creates more floor space on each floor and gives the building a very unique look.  At the top, there are also two massive antennae.

The John Hancock Center is a premiere mixed-use building in downtown Chicago.  It is home to 700 apartments (the highest residences in the world!), hundreds of businesses, a 95th floor luxury restaurant, America's highest indoor swimming pool, a fabulous observation deck and museum, and a recently remodeled interior.  At the foot of the building is a large elliptical plaza with lush foliage and a large artificial waterfall.

If you're going skyscraper hunting in Chicago, make the John Hancock Center first on your list. Though the Sears Tower is much larger, the John Hancock Center has better views, a better location, and an award-winning design by a renowned architectural firm.