This is about the way the John Hancock building looked the first time I saw it, although I first saw it while driving into Chicago on the Kennedy Expressway in June 1968 – shortly after my discharge from the Army.
Later that day I looked at it from the sidewalk across the street from 875 North Michigan Avenue. It was still just a shell and there wasn’t much to see, but It was the first time I got a dizzy feeling while leaning back and looking up the side of the building, trying to see its top floors.
My first two years of high school were just a couple blocks from where the Hancock Building would be. My first year of college was at Loyola University, also a couple blocks away. During that year I often had lunch on the lawn in front of the Chicago Water Tower, which is across the street and a block south of the Hancock Building, but at that time there was little worth noting that was in the space the Hancock would eventually fill. I remember the Chicago Water Works Building across the street from the Water Tower, but everything else was just day-to-day life: people, traffic, stores, and buildings moving or not moving around me while I laughed with my friends and enjoyed my sandwich and piece of fruit or cookies oblivious to everything that wasn’t important to my little world.
Now that I am much older I often wish I had paid more attention to my surroundings. Whenever I visit Chicago now I notice changes, new buildings, new shops and, although I recognize the change I usually cannot remember what it changed from. That’s the way it is with the Hancock. I often walked along Michigan Avenue past 875 North Michigan Avenue sometimes looking at whatever filled that space at the time. I’ve tried to remember what was there, but all I can remember is the general feel of Michigan Avenue with its traffic – cars, taxis, and buses – going by, making noise, and kicking up dust.
That’s one of the things about memory if you didn’t pay attention to something when it was nearby the only thing you might remember years later is the dust