Search this site:


May 2, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Hancock Tower sign

ObservatoryTodd Jennings submits a picture taken during a trip to Chicago:

This was taken on the ground floor of the 1,150-foot-high Hancock Tower. I was looking for the observatory, and found this less-than-helpful sign apparently trying to convince me that the observatory I was looking for was in the basement.


everyone incapable of seeing other points of view, start warming up those 'not broken's.

out of curiosity, why is the pic a gif?

Posted by: gmangw at May 2, 2006 12:16 AM

meh, this one's weak--I too predict a storm of NB's from the naysayers

Posted by: abcdario at May 2, 2006 12:17 AM

ha! I'm a tard-- nay. Not broken.

Posted by: abcdario at May 2, 2006 12:29 AM

obviously not broken, you are observing the earths crust and worms under the earth. What else could anyone possibly expect?

Posted by: Vic at May 2, 2006 12:33 AM

Here's what's broken: the fact that we in the Western world use both /\ and \/ to mean "ahead".

Bad choice of the two, though. Broken.

Posted by: =David at May 2, 2006 12:35 AM

Ha, what a coincidence...I was right there just over a month ago. I believe what that means is that the elevator to the observatory is downstairs, for some odd reason. But the really funny thing is that around the corner is an elevator to a restaurant called the Signature Room at the 95th, which sits one floor ABOVE the observatory. Not only that, but it's free to go up to there, where the observatory is not (I'd imagine--I didn't go to it). Plus, you can enjoy some casual fine dining or, on yet another floor higher, $10.50 margaritas while overlooking the entire city through large windows on all sides of the restaurant/lounge. So why settle for a measly old observatory two floors below? That idea itself is broken.

Posted by: Anthony at May 2, 2006 02:17 AM

I *never* thought that I would say it, but, for the first time, I will: NOT BROKEN!!

Why? At the John Hancock, in order to get to the observatory, one needs to pay for a ticket and ride the elevator that starts in the basement! The signs point down to the place where tourists need to go, in order to ride up!

Posted by: bobby boi at May 2, 2006 02:18 AM

I'm with Bobby.... I have never posted a "not broken" (though I have posted a few "*NOT* 'not broken'" messates) but....


The arrows, which are above the pathway leading to the door tat goes to the observation deck are clearly pointing to the aforementioned pathway.

Posted by: Glenn Lasher at May 2, 2006 06:59 AM

While technically not broken, when directing people "ahead", upward facing arrows are used.

Not broken, but could be better . . . .

Posted by: Ryan Mayton at May 2, 2006 07:13 AM

Yeah... Never ever said this before but this is most definetly NOT BROKEN.

(1) The arrows point to the path

(2) The Elevator is downstairs

(3) Too Weak to be broken

(4) Still Could be improved

Posted by: FrenziedPenguin at May 2, 2006 07:44 AM

All realitive to what you will be observing....perhaps it's showing Capones Vault...oh, wait...Geraldo already showed us that was broken....

Posted by: Pumpkin Noggin at May 2, 2006 08:55 AM

Yeah... I have to say not broken here too. Even discounting that the elevator's in the basement, there are stairs going upwards in the background.

Posted by: Mnok at May 2, 2006 09:55 AM

I agree with "=Dave" and that it is not broken. It is interesting that, depending on what part of the US you are in, the "go straight" arrow is either pointing up or down. I have noticed this phenomen in airports--seems to me, Chicago O'Hare's "go straight" arrows point down and Detroit's & Minneapolis's point up.

Posted by: Tim at May 2, 2006 10:33 AM

Suppose the stairs/elevator/etc. going up to the observatory were in the background, behind the sign. How do you suppose they could show that? The sign is 2-dimensional. Since the sign is above eye level and above the path, the arrow points down to indicate "go forward". It's unambiguous because there's no way you can go down from directly below the sign.

Posted by: Fuzzy at May 2, 2006 11:14 AM

First-time poster here. Not Broken. Think about the highway. When you have a sign above the road pointing to the lane you need to be in, going straight ahead, which way is the arrow pointing? Down! It certainly doesn't mean to go underneath the road.

Posted by: Nuj at May 2, 2006 01:01 PM

Here's a challenge for someone. Create an arrow that would indicate straight ahead with no abiguity. Maybe something like ->

Posted by: Dennis at May 2, 2006 01:06 PM

Anyone gone to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago? The front door is the exit. You go down into the basement to enter. Very clear if you arrive via the parking lot but strange when you arrive by bus.

Posted by: Dennis at May 2, 2006 01:09 PM

Here's a challenge for someone. Create an arrow that would indicate straight ahead with no abiguity. Maybe something like ->

How about the word "ahead"?

Posted by: Jay at May 2, 2006 03:14 PM

Anyone gone to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago? The front door is the exit. You go down into the basement to enter. Very clear if you arrive via the parking lot but strange when you arrive by bus.

Posted by: Dennis at May 2, 2006 1:09:25 PM

This is true, because the building that currently houses the MSI was used in "The Expo" and it's front door was accessed by boat form the "lake" (aka pond at what is now the back of the building).....When held in context with the other buildings that were around it at the time (of which the MSI and Field Museum of Natural History are the only remaining in the area), it makes perfect sense.

Posted by: Pupkin Noggin at May 2, 2006 03:29 PM

Not Broken - It is a very clear instruction on how to get to the observatory. You must go to another floor to get tickets and an express elevator. You will never see that in the main lobby, it takes too much room. Almost every high rise with an observatory floor has a similar setup.

Posted by: Arthur Dent at May 2, 2006 03:49 PM

Clearly Not Broken. Because of all the reasons already mentioned. I cant beleive this even made it to post. Who decides this anyway? Bunch o' monkeys? Maybe Mark is too busy to edit this column because of his conference, let his dog pick TIB posts?

Posted by: Major major at May 2, 2006 03:55 PM

Why is this posted in “Signs” and not under the “Not Broken” category?

About the post, I have never said Not Broken before but…


By the way, the Not Broken link is inconsistent with the other links (The b in broken is not capitalized {in the rest of the links the 2nd word is capitalized})

Posted by: Darth Ninja at May 2, 2006 04:43 PM

"Here's a challenge for someone. Create an arrow that would indicate straight ahead with no abiguity. Maybe something like ->

In drafting (technical drawing), there is an obscure way to do this: A circle with an X inside it. The X is the tail feathers, and the circle is the arrowhead. (For an arrow pointing directly at you, it's a circle with a dot in the middle. The circle is the arrowhead, and the dot is the point of the arrowhead.) But nobody would intuitively recognize a circle with an X inside it to mean, "straight ahead." It looks more like "do not enter".

Better ideas:

An arrow with perspective. It points up (or down), but the tail is fatter than the tip, making it look like it's leading away from you.

Paint the arrow on the floor (or wall, or ceiling). That arrow would point in the right direction.

Posted by: Another Bob at May 3, 2006 09:10 AM

But an arrow that you can see without tilting your head down or up is much more preferable, and doesn't mar the fine stone tiling in the floor.

Posted by: Fuzzy at May 3, 2006 02:54 PM

Ok, here is an idea, if the destination is ahead of you, then dont put the direction 'arrow' on the ceiling, put it on the WALL (on the left or right side), then the arrow will clearly point in the correct direction. DUH!. To find the directory on the wall, you can put THAT arrow on the ceiling because it will point to the SIDE. Gosh, do I have to think of everything?!

Posted by: Napoleon D. at May 3, 2006 03:34 PM

NB- building designed by Escher, observatory is for people watching anyways.

Posted by: Wu Jie-yin at May 11, 2006 05:40 AM

As a matter of do go down to catch the elevator to the top. they take yer pic (to sell on the way out) and have gift shop etc down there.

check it out! its pretty cool at the top

Posted by: searskid at May 12, 2006 01:01 PM

I absolutely hate it when people try to use a down arrow to indicate "ahead". The use of a down arrow on a freeway sign is to indicate a LANE. That's why I hate when sign makers feel it necessary to delete the lane arrow when they add an arrow for the exit direction.

Posted by: MacGuy at May 24, 2006 02:27 PM

I went to the Hancock Observatory a few weeks ago, and saw this sign. While it is true that you catch the elevators in the basement, the sign itself is located in the basement.

Posted by: Dylan at June 22, 2006 09:40 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: