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875 North Michigan Avenue (John Hancock Center) | The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago

John Hancock Center
John Hancock Center
John Hancock Center
Formerly known as the John Hancock Center, 875 North Michigan Avenue towers over other landmarks on Michigan Avenue, including the historic Water Tower. Credit: Meredith Francis for WTTW; Geoffrey Baer for WTTW

875 North Michigan Avenue (John Hancock Center)

For me, when it’s terrible down there, it’s potentially beautiful above.
— Peter Tsai, photographer
Video still

Photographer Peter Tsai shows Geoffrey Baer the beauty of bad weather at Hancock Center.

The building formerly known as the John Hancock Center (now officially known by its address: 875 North Michigan Avenue) once held the title of the tallest building in Chicago. Completed in 1969, the skyscraper was designed by the famed firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, led by architect Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Khan. They pioneered a new structural system that allowed buildings to be taller and more efficient, planting the engineering seeds for supertalls such as the Willis Tower. Its tapered structure and the X’s that make up the exterior cross bracing make it a distinctive element in Chicago’s iconic skyline. Today, 875 Michigan ranks as the fifth tallest building in the city, with its 100 stories reaching 1,128 feet – or 1,500 if you count the antennas. The 360 Chicago Observation Deck on the 94th floor gives customers a panoramic view of the city, and braver thrill seekers can go to a section with a glass lookout that tilts forward over the city. See the video above in which Geoffrey Baer met with photographer Peter Tsai, who has captured stunning images of the city from 875 Michigan during even the worst weather.