John Hancock Tower And Observatory in Boston - Travel Ape
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 John Hancock Tower And Observatory
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Address:200 Clarendon St.
Phone:(617) 247-1977
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Closed until further notice due to 9/11.
Boston's skyline is readily recognizable from any number of angles and with good cause. It represents an artistic compilation of structural shapes and sizes that combine to create an urban landscape second to none. Standing out among - and definitely above - the surrounding structures, the Back Bay's John Hancock Tower is Boston's tallest landmark beating out the nearby Prudential Tower by several floors.

However, the John Hancock Tower stands out for more than its height. At 62 stories high, the mirrored rhomboid earned a place in the hearts of longtime Bostonians when the proud structure - criticized at first for being too flamboyant - began shedding window-sized glass panes like huge crystalline tears falling from the face of a gentle giant. The cause of the falling window panes was traced and remedied, but not until after Bostonians had grown used to signs warning them to watch out for falling glass - tidbits of which likely remain stored in shoeboxes and kitchen drawers throughout the region. The result of that unseemly introduction? Locals came to embrace the building once criticized for being too tall, too modern, too glitzy, too...well...too...and came to see it as one of their own - defending its imperfections while heralding its height, strength, poise, and to-die-for view from its 60th floor observatory.

Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, the John Hancock Tower was completed in 1976 to create additional office space for the John Hancock Life Insurance Co. which already occupied two buildings - the Berkeley Building on Berkeley Street and the Clarendon Building on Clarendon Street - across the street from the site of the John Hancock Tower. Visitors reach the tower's 60th floor observatory through a side entrance on St. James Ave. across the street from Trinity Church and Copley Place where they purchase tickets and board an express elevator that whisks them to Boston's highest lookout point. On a clear day, visitors will likely be able to pick out Provincetown at the end of Cape Cod on the eastern horizon, New Hampshire's White Mountains to the north, and Berkshire Hills in western Massachusetts to the west.

Pay-per-view telescopes are posted at strategic points around the perimeter of the observatory. And while the view is spectacular, so is the audio-visual presentation that describes how Back Bay came to be (it was created by filling marshlands with gravel in the early 1900s) pinpointing where the Hancock Tower would stand in water had that project not created the Back Bay neighborhood.
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