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Chicago’s John Hancock Observatory (now known as 360° Chicago) includes the city's only open-air skywalk and TILT observation deck. Perched 94 stories above the Magnificent Mile, visitors are treated to a panoramic view that extends from Chicago all the way to Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Scraping the sky with 100 total stories and a height of 1,127-feet, the John Hancock Center was built in 1969.
At the time, it was the second-tallest building in the world. Today, the Center holds the title as the 6th-tallest building in the United States.
Beyond being a major draw for tourists, John Hancock Center and Observatory also serves as a premier Chicago location for offices, restaurants and condominiums.
Skywalk on the 94th floor
John Hancock Observatory competes with Willis Tower (previously Sears Tower) for tourists that are seeking a sky-high view of Chicago. Though Willis Tower delivers a higher vantage point, many visitors prefer the lakeside location and open-air experience at John Hancock Observatory.
In 2009 glass balconies, known as the Ledge, were added to the Willis Tower Skydeck. 360 Chicago added their own high altitude viewing experience in 2014 — TILT; a viewing platform that gradually leans visitors up to 30 degrees out over views of the Magnificent Mile 1000 feet (305 m) below.
The building's Skywalk includes a section with high-strength stainless steel screens allowing you to experience firsthand why Chicago is known as the Windy City.
To assist visitors maps describe the view in each direction. Free multimedia sky tours, which offer audio and imagery via a small electronic device, provide additional details and facts.
For added excitement, the Skywalk is equipped with Soundscope "talking" telescopes. These next-generation telescopes let you zoom in on popular Chicago attractions and hear sound effects that complete the experience. For example, you can listen to the birds chirping in Lincoln Park or the cheering crowd at US Cellular Field. Soundscopes also offer narratives of local attractions in English, Spanish, Japanese or French.
To complete the Skywalk experience, Hancock Observatory has incorporated a History Wall of Chicago that spans 80 feet. The Wall is laid out in mural form and touches on the many interesting highlights of Chicago's past – from the city's founding and the Great Fire to the Black Sox Scandal and World's Fair.
With a speed of 1,800 feet per minute, the John Hancock Observatory boasts the fastest elevators in North America. Take them one floor above the Skywalk to the 95th story, and you'll find yourself at The Signature Room at the 95th. This upscale restaurant offers fine cuisine and floor-to-ceiling views of the Chicago skyline. For less expensive dining options, try the Espression by Lavannza Café or The Cheesecake Factory.
John Hancock Center is located at 875 North Michigan Avenue in the commercial district known as The Miracle Mile.
Slideshow—all photos on this page
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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2016 Lee W. Nelson