Monday, November 16, 2009

ChicagoRound: The John Hancock Center

Chicago’s most recognizable skyscraper, with its delicate tapering and its iconic X-bracing, is only the city’s fourth tallest building.

Erected between 1965 and 1970, the Hancock Center actually sits on landfill from Chicago’s great 1871 fire. As legend has it, a mountebank named George Wellington "Cap" Streeter ran his steamboat aground on a sandbar 450 feet off Chicago’s north shore in 1886, convinced post-fire contractors to dump debris between the shore and his boat, and over the decades sold deeds and collected taxes on the growing mass of landfill he called the United States District of Lake Michigan.

The area is today called Streeterville, and the Hancock Center reportedly occupies the spot where Cap Streeter’s boat stood for over a decade.

100 stories tall, the Hancock Center houses stores, restaurants and about 700 condominiums. That swirly structure behind the building in this awesome satellite photo is the ramp to the parking garage, which sits on floors 4–12.

And this February, I’ll be racing up the stairs to the 94th floor once again in Hustle up the Hancock. It’s a fundraiser for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (formerly the American Lung Association), which works to fight lung diseases including cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the medical consequences of smoking and pollution.

The top Hustle up the Hancock time is 9:38, roughly half the time it takes me to climb. But it takes you less than a minute to sponsor me just by clicking this link. It's easy!

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