Chicago Architecture Info

875 North Michigan Avenue

Also known as
Big John
Formerly known as The John Hancock Center
875 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Basic Information
Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Cost $95,000,000
Floors: 100
Maximum height 1,506 feet/452 meters
Neighborhood: Gold Coast
Bounding Streets:
North Michigan Avenue
East Delaware Place
North Mies Van Der Rhoe Way
East Chestnut Street
More Information
  • Height to tower roof: 1,106 feet, six inches
  • Height to penthouse roof: 1,127 feet
  • Height to top of east antenna: 1,506.25 feet
  • Size at base: 47,000 square feet
  • Size at top: 17,000 square feet
  • Steel used: 46,000 tons.
  • Designed by: Bruce J. Graham
  • Designed by: Fazlur R. Khan
  • Developer: Jerry Wolman
  • Elevators: 42
  • Stairs from the lobby to the observation deck: 1,632
  • Light tubes on the 99th floor: 555
  • Time to change crown light tubes: 40-50 hours to change the tinted sleeves over the tubes by hand
  • Parking spaces: 750
  • Office floor space: 897,000 square feet
  • Retail floor space: 171,800 square feet
  • Observation deck floor space: 17,400 square feet
  • Commercial address: 875 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611
  • Residential address: 175 East Delaware Place, Chicago, Illinois 60611
  • This was formerly the location of a surface parking lot.
  • At the time of its completion, this was the tallest building in Chicago, surpassing the Daley Center.
  • There is a public observation deck on the 94th floor. It is 1,000 feet above Michigan Avenue.
  • The restaurant on the 95th floor of this building was formerly called The 95th. It is now The Signature Room.
  • One section of the observation deck is open to the outside, but is still screened in.
  • The Hancock Center has 2,800,000 square feet of space.
  • 47 floors of the Hancock Center are residential. It is like a city unto itself, and people do not have to leave the building. The people who live there have their own post office, supermarket, day care center, shops, full-sized swimming pool, library, gym, and other amenities.
  • Because the building is tapered, homes on different levels have different amounts of space even if they have the same floorplan.
  • The most coveted views are to the North, overlooking Lincoln Park, and where there is less noise from the city.
  • The second-most popular view is to the West over the suburbs and spectacular sunsets, followed by the South view of the city.
  • East views are least popular, especially on higher floors, because the blue lake melds with the blue sky and there's not much to see other than blue.
  • Some Southern views are problematic because they overlook the roof of Water Tower Place. Residents complain that it's like having a parking lot outside their windows.
  • At the time it was completed, this building had 720 apartments. That number has been reduced as various units were combined to make larger homes.
  • *The residential portion of the building has three elevator banks. One for freight, one for passengers, and one for emergency evacuations.
  • This building and others surrounding it were erected at the location of the first City of Chicago cemetery. While all of the graves were supposed to have been moved to the former cemetery in what is now Lincoln Park construction in the area still turns up the occasional body.
  • Before the 2009 switchover to digital television the Hancock Center's two masts carried the transmitting antennae for ten TV stations and five backup TV transmitters.
  • The Eastern mast is the taller of the two. It is 1,503 feet and three inches from the ground to the tip.
  • For decades the Signature Room, the restaurant at the top of the Hancock, would keep its wine in a wine cellar -- literally. Even though the restaurant is on the 94th floor, wine was kept in the basement and brought up as needed. All of the wine was moved upstairs around 2000.
  • The studios of WLUP Radio are in this building.
  • The studios of WUSN Radio are in this building.
  • The Hancock elevators are billed as the fastest in America, climbing 95 stories in 40 seconds.
  • Famed architect Mies van der Rohe once designed a skyscraper for this plot, but it was never built and today's John Hancock Center took its place.
  • The women's bathrooms at the 96th floor bar are routinely named the best in the city, in no small part because of the view.
  • Talk show host Jerry Springer rented a condominium on the 91st floor of this building when his show was filed in Chicago. It moved to Connecticut in 2009.
  • The restaurant on the 95th floor of this building is where President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle had their first date.
  • A 20-foot-tall star used to be suspended between the building's antennae during the Christmas season.
  • The exterior of the building's 98th floor is lined with 500 eight-foot-tall light panels. Colored tubes are put over them by hand to change the colors.
  • 1965: Plans for the John Hancock Center are announced.
  • 1969: Construction is completed.
  • 1972: The Hancock Center is surpassed by the Standard Oil Building (now the Aon Center) as the tallest building in Chicago.
  • 1973: The residential portion of this building converts from apartments to condominiums.
  • June, 1988: A proposal was floated to build a massive $20 million, three-story atrium in front of this building. Designed by Green Hiltscher Shapiro, it would have extended all the way to the North Michigan Avenue sidewalk and had colonnades on the north and south sides of the building.
  • November 11, 1981: Stuntman Dan Goodwin climbs the outside of the building. It takes him six hours to get to the top.
  • 1989: The mall plan is scuttled by residents and critics.
  • May, 1997: The 94th floor observatory reopens after a $2.5 million renovation.
  • December 18, 1997: Comedian Chris Farley dies in his home on the 60th floor.
  • March 9, 2002: Three women were killed when a scaffold broke apart in high winds and rained debris on the street below, crushing two cars.
  • August 10, 2006: WLS Television reports the John Hancock Center could be sold.
  • 2007: This building was sold for $383 million.
  • September 2010: A new attraction was announced for the 94th floor observatory: 50x20-foot skating rink, made of a synthetic substance called "Skating in the Sky."
  • September, 2010: This building was named #1 on Chicago Magazine's list of the Top 40 Buildings in Chicago.
  • June, 2013: The office portion of this building and its parking garage were sold. Crain's Chicago Business estimated the sale price was $145 million.