Flocking to the best, the biggest or the tallest is overrated, folks. Yes, being American is all about wanting the biggest, the baddest and the most expensive; but I manage to find an appreciation for the underdog that once stood tall and has now been passed up due to age. While in NYC in May, I had no choice but to go atop the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller, but my heart and lens was fixated on the Chrysler Building the whole time. I even set out with the purpose to find a dinner spot that would give me a clear view of that iconic building that I’m fascinated with.
Being in Chicago was no different. Yes, I could have flocked along with everyone else to visit the Sears Tower and get a perspective of about 12 or 13 floors higher than the Hancock Building, but I didn’t. Something about the design of the Hancock calls to me more than the boxy and more modern Sears Tower. I like the skeleton of the Hancock being on the outside and visible to the world. I like how the building tapers on all four sides. I like how the two antennae balance everything out.
On one of the days I was in Chicago, I had an opening in the day just long enough to get downtown to the Hancock to visit the Observatory and walk around a bit in that neighborhood on Michigan Ave. I headed straight up to the observatory and was amazed at how few people there were. When I got to talking to an attendant, he pointed out that they weren’t the tallest building in town. What a shame, I thought.
Not only does the Hancock sport that fastest elevator to an observatory in the US, but it also has a skywalk that Sears doesn’t. Do you actually get to walk outside? Well, sort of. There’s a set of two revolving doors with a path about twenty feet long on one of the sides that instead of windows, has a chicken-wire style protective barrier that lets the ambient air in. I happened to be there during a very beautiful day and the air was cool and crisp. I can only imagine talking that walk during winter when experiencing why they call Chicago the Windy City. I’d probably freeze my ass off!!
It has a quaint coffee shop and good-sized gift shop along with some of the best views of the Chicago skyline allowing you to see parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio. I also features a return trip visit during the same 48 hours for an additional $7 on the way out in case you want to come back and catch it at night. I wanted to come back, but I knew I wouldn’t have the time.
Talking with the attendant, he also mentioned how the Sears Tower is a little more restrictive with its patrons because it’s considered a high risk target with it being the tallest building currently completed in the continental US. So, if you wanted to come in to the Hancock with a tripod, you might just get away with it. At the Sears Tower, maybe not. I know that I saw a huge number of tripods in the lobby of the Empire State Building in NYC with claim tags…
I also took the architecture tour along the river while in town, but the Hancock isn’t on the river front, so I wasn’t able to see it up close. This was another reason why I was willing to make the exclusive trip and I wasn’t disappointed. I give the Hancock two thumbs up with its beautiful views and excellent tourist experience.
These images were all taken with my Canon 1D Mark II N and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 I rented for the trip. It truly is a great lens. Enjoy!!