The history of 175 East Delaware Place is as storied and dynamic as the architecture itself.



Developer Jerry Wolman approaches architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to discuss developing his parking lot on the block bounded by Michigan Avenue, Delaware Place, Seneca Street (renamed Mies van der Rohe Way in 1986), and Chestnut Street.


Chief architect Bruce Graham (right) and chief engineer Fazlur Khan (left) along with their SOM team face a huge design challenge: The footprint for the project is relatively small, but Wolman’s vision is large—an apartment tower and an office building side by side, plus a garage mandated by zoning requirements. Over lunch one day, Graham grabs a salt shaker and puts it on top of the pepper shaker. He suggests to Kahn that they stack the apartments on top of the business offices. Kahn goes to work and designs a tubular system that will hold up during high winds and earthquakes. Graham incorporates Kahn’s innovative X-beams on the exterior of the tapered structure, creating the iconic look that defines the building against the Chicago skyline.  It is recognized around the world.


John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, which had underwritten the project, takes title from Wolman. The Hancock Center name is adopted.

© Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. ST-12004882-0008,
Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum


Otis Elevator Company proudly announces that it will be providing the new John Hancock Center with 50 elevators and escalators. The elevators to the top floors are projected to travel at 1800 feet per minute, making them among the fastest in the world.


John Hancock Center, the second-tallest building in the world, is completed. Logging five million hours, more than 2,000 people have worked on the project. The building becomes affectionately known as “Big John” by locals. The following year, the first residents move into “the world’s highest apartments.”


Apartments in the John Hancock Center, which had been rental, are converted to condominiums under individual ownership.


Dan “Spider Dan” Goodwin scales the John Hancock Center while the world watches.


Poltergeist III, starring Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Heather O’Rourke, and others, is partly filmed on location at 175 East Delaware Place.


National Geographic publishes “At Home in Chicago’s Hancock Center.” Many residents and their homes are featured.


The John Hancock Center receives the “Twenty-five Year Award” from the American Institute of Architects; this honor is bestowed on one building worldwide that has stood the test of time for the previous 25 to 35 years and continues to set standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance.

Joe Ravi CC-BY-SA 3.0


Princeton Architectural Press publishes a monograph on the John Hancock Center with photos by Ezra Stoller and an introduction by the daughter of Fazlur Khan, Yasmin Sabina Khan.


The John Hancock Center is depicted on a US quarter, the only time in history a private residence has appeared on a US coin.


Hancock Center is celebrated on a US postage stamp.


175 East Delaware Place upgrades to 1-gigabit internet service to all residences, as well as the street-level lobby and the 44th floor Sky Lobby.