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Rewind Chicago: In 1968, The John Hancock Center Takes Form Over Chicago

The construction of the John Hancock Center (Credit:  C. William Brubaker Collection/University Of Illinois-Chicago Library)

The construction of the John Hancock Center (Credit: C. William Brubaker Collection/University Of Illinois-Chicago Library)

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Walking east on Chicago Avenue in 1968, one could see the completed skeleton of what would become one of Chicago’s iconic structures.

The John Hancock Center had reached its 1,127-foot height–at the time the second-tallest building in the world. With its distinctive cross-brace design, the steel and glass tower was completed in 1970.

This photograph was taken 1968 by architect William Brubaker, who worked his entire professional career at Perkins & Will, becoming president and chairman around the time he captured this image.

This slide is a digital version from Brubaker’s personal slide collection, which he photographed himself in and around Chicago.

Brubaker was standing at just west of the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Franklin Street.

Above the street is the Chicago Avenue L stop along the Ravenswood Line–what is now the Brown Line.

The corner looks a bit different now.

The building at the right of the frame is now a Starbucks.

On the other side of the tracks across the street, that grill has been transformed into a Paper Source stationery store. The bar (note the classic Schlitz beer sign) just up the street is still a bar, just a very different one now: a craft beer and restaurant called, The Farmhouse Tavern.

Brubaker died in 2002.

According to his obituary by architecture critic Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune, Brubaker helped design more than 200 schools, including the Whitney Young Magnet School in Chicago and New Trier West High School in Northfield.

One of his most notable projects is the sloping First National Bank of Chicago–now Chase Bank–built in 1969 at the corner of Dearborn and Madison. The submerged plaza south of the building–which later included the “Four Seasons” block mosaic by Marc Chagall–was inspired by the famed plaza at Rockefeller Center in New York.

An early sketch of the First National Bank by William Brubaker. (Credit: Art Institute Of Chicago)

An early sketch of the First National Bank by William Brubaker. (Credit: Art Institute Of Chicago)

Rewind Chicago is an occasional series on Chicago’s past in pictures. John Dodge is Executive Producer of cbschicago.com