Hancock Tower’s Tilting Window Escalates Chicago’s Freaky Skyscraper Window Arms Race

After years of friendly coexistence as tall-ass Chicago buildings with top-floor viewing areas that attracted tourists looking to test their acrophobia, the Willis (nee Sears) Tower threw down the gauntlet at its crosstown rival the Hancock Tower (technically, the John Hancock Center) by adding “The Ledge” — transparent boxes that jut out several feet from the building’s Skydeck, giving the visitor a truly knee-weakening experience. So what could the Hancock folks do to out-thrill the Willis’s boxes in the sky? How about a window that actually tilts you out over the Windy City’s streets?

Check out the above video just for the joy of seeing grown, presumably professional men and women scream in terror as they go on preview ride of Tilt on the Hancock’s 94th floor.

Personally, it’s not the tilting or the altitude that I dread, it’s the worry that my grip will loosen and I’ll sprawl forward onto the angled glass, making a public spectacle of myself and, knowing my klutzy luck, probably bloodying my nose in the process.

Though the Hancock is still not as towering as the Willis, this is definitely an escalation in the relatively blood-free Observation Deck War of Chicago, leading one to wonder what sort of Fear Factor-like response will come.

Perhaps those Ledge boxes at the Willis will become like the Six Flags Tower of Doom and suddenly descend at rapid speeds? Maybe the Tilt will start having Bucking Bronco nights, with the window’s operator trying to hurl people from the handrails. Maybe the Aon Center will… do something interesting for a change.