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Monday, January 12, 2009

Light! Light!

Magnet #325 - John Hancock Building

When I was very little, with my parents in Chicago, whenever we would approach the Loop, we'd see the John Hancock building, and according to my parents, I used to yell out, "chu-ka! chu-ka!" and open and close my hands in some sort of jazz hands thing.

My parents' native Filipino dialect is Bisayan, and the word for light, is suga, so that's what I was yelling out whenever we'd see the light signals flashing from the tops of the Hancock Building. Yeah, you probably have to be there to see how much fun my parents have telling this story.

I love the building, for the giggles it still gives my parents whenever they see it, but also, because it's a pretty neat building in its own right. Designed by Fazlur Kahn of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and known for its X-cross bracing, that criss-cross all the way to the top. It's shaped into a wedge, which makes it look much taller than it is.

It took something like 5 million manhours to build, and stands at more than 90 stories. Supposedly, if you include those lighted antennas, the John Hancock Center is the fourth-tallest building in the world.

They just refurbished the Observatory last year, so I bet it's supercool up there. The building is multi-use, which basically means that people live and work in it - they have something like 48 floors of condo space there. Dudes, that'd be an awesome address and view, I'm sure.

The skyscraper was named for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, the company that was named for John Hancock back in 1862. And, the reason I picked this magnet for today?

Today's the birthday of John Hancock - President of the Second Continental Congress, first signer of the Declaration of Independence, and nine-term governor of Massachusetts.

Odd. Big signature. Big buildings. Hmmm...wonder how tall he was in real life.
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4 comments:

GoldenGait said...

Ooh! Stories!

So every year they have the Hustle Up The Hancock race, where people are let loose from the ground floor into the stairwell of the building, one every few seconds, and they climb to the top. All 96 floors to the observatory. The fastest guys are usually the firemen, and the top time is usually just under 10 minutes. Seriously--holy bejesus. I worked medical crew one year, figuring I'd be stationed at the top. Nope--had to start at the top and walk down past all the participants, and when I got to the ground floor, I took the elevator up and started back down again. Climbed down over 300 stairs that day, and boy howdy, did my legs scream.

Also: the cross-braces are considered a desirable part of the architecture, so the apartments with part of their windows' view obscured by a beam go for $2,000/month more than those without obstruction. Wacky.

GoldenGait said...

I should say 300 FLIGHTS of stairs, not 300 stairs.

Stupid blogger, not letting me edit.

Anonymous said...

You can't spell magnetism with SIGN, as in Sign here with your John Hancock.

joy said...

Great story, GG, though I can't be bothered to climb the stairs at home or at work, so I dunno how you did 300 flights of stairs, up or down.

That's a fun fact about the cross-brace, I can see where it'd be kinda cool to have...as long as I had at least one unobstructed view.

And, well done, anon. I do love thinking that John Hancock elbowed his way to the front of the signers line. It's like those group cards at work, when someone takes the primo spot to sign, and then everyone else has to find alternative real estate on the card. Heheheh.