Perched on the 94th floor of John Hancock Center is 360 Chicago. The observatory, 1,000 feet above The Magnificent Mile, gives visitors the chance to see four states — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin — and as far away as 55 miles. On a clear day, anyway. The John Hancock Center is the fourth-tallest building in the city and the seventh-tallest nationwide. To reach the top, guests board elevators that travel 1,800 feet per minute, completing the trip to the 94th floor in a mere 40 seconds.
Founded in 1879 and located in Chicago’s Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country. It is home to more than 300,000 works of art, including a range of iconic and instantly recognizable works of art. Among the works in the museum’s vast collection are Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Roughly 1.5 million people visit the museum every year. The museum is located in a building built in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exposition.
The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Known colloquially as The Field Museum, the museum is home to more than 24 million specimens and objects, including gems, meteorites, fossils and cultural artifacts from around the globe. More than 2 million people visit the museum every year. Among the most famous items in the collection are Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton currently known, and the infamous Lions of Tsavo.
The water was vital to Chicago’s growth and success as a city, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. The five-story museum is located in the southwest bridge house of the DuSable Bridge, better known as the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The museum includes exhibits on the history of the Chicago River and the bridge, and visitors can access the bridge’s gear room.
The Museum of Science and Industry, located in the former Palace of Fine Arts built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, opened in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition. The museum was initially endowed by Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck and Company president. Today, the museum is home to more 2,000 exhibits displayed in 75 major halls. Among the most famous exhibits are German submarine U-505 captured during World War II, the Apollo 8 spacecraft that carried the first humans to orbit the Moon and the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train, the Pioneer Zephyr.
The Shedd Aquarium opened on May 30, 1930, and is home to 1,500 species, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects. With more than 5 million gallons of water, it was at one time the largest indoor aquarium in the world. Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium was the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater fish collection. The aquarium is formally named the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
The Willis Tower observation deck, located on the 103rd floor of the tower, first opened on June 22, 1974. Today, 1.3 million visitors make their way to the deck, today known as Skydeck Chicago, every year. In January 2009, the owners of Willis Tower kicked off a major renovation of the Skydeck. Among the changes was the additon of retractable glass balconies. Known as The Ledge, the balconies can be extended approximately 4 feetfrom the facade of building and allow visitors to look through the glass floor to the street 1,353 feet below. The balconies officially opened on July 2, 2009.