Chicago’s skyline is one of the most impressive in the world, encompassing four of the eight tallest buildings in the US. There are several locations in and around Chicago that enable you to take in the splendor of the Windy City’s architecture. None give such a spectacular view as the one from the observatory at 360 Chicago.
360 Chicago is on the 94th floor of the John Hancock center, a full 1,030 feet above street level in the upmarket Magnificent Mile. Previously known as the John Hancock Observatory, the name was changed in 2014, along with its ownership.
A visit to the 360 Chicago is full of surprises and superlatives. Access to the 94th floor is via the fastest lift in the country, rising more 1,000 feet in a mere 40 seconds. While you wait for the lift in the lobby, you can enjoy a brief video on the history of Chicago or look at photographic displays of the neighborhoods and their diverse cultures.
An amazing 360° panorama awaits you when you arrive on the observation deck. On a clear day, you can see over 55 miles into the distance, taking in four states: Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. But the real stars of the scene are the skyscrapers.
With some of the tallest buildings in America and the world spread out before you, it can be difficult to know what to look at first. If you want to learn more about these imposing buildings, interactive multimedia displays are dotted about giving information in seven languages. Children are catered for by online activities they can enjoy during and after their visit. There is a café and a restaurant plus, of course, the ever-present gift shop selling souvenirs.
Not for the faint-hearted
360 Chicago offers a unique attraction for the fearless. TILT is a 26 foot long platform, with full-height panels of safety glass. There are eight partitions along the platform, each with handrails, which can accommodate one person. TILT is unique because, as its name suggests, the platform literally tilts the viewers out of the building.
Initially, the realization you are leaning away from the safety of the 94th floor is mildly disconcerting. When the platform has completed its full 30° tilt, you stare down onto North Manhattan Avenue over 1,000 feet below, gripping the handrails with renewed passion!
The observation deck provides amazing photo opportunities, both day and night. In the evening, it’s not just the stars that twinkle but also the millions of lights illuminating this busy city. For safety reasons, tripods are not permitted on 360 Chicago except on special photography evenings when you can take stunning long exposure shots. Other events held at the observatory include DJ nights and ‘Guides in the Sky’ evenings.
Before you visit 360 Chicago check out the various discounts and deals which seem to change almost daily. With literally so much to see and experience it’s no wonder that 360 Chicago was recently voted one of the best views in America by Travel and Leisure Magazine.