By Jim Armstrong

BOSTON (CBS) – The John Hancock Tower is an architectural triumph that dominates the Boston skyline.

Ten years ago, everyone was allowed to take in the view from the 60th floor, nearly 800 feet above the Back Bay. But since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Hancock’s observation deck has been closed.

Check: 9/11 – 10 Years Later

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, tall buildings all over the world went into high-security mode. Now, a decade later, the Hancock Tower remains off limits, even as buildings like the Empire State Building in New York City and the Prudential Tower right down the street re-opened to visitors.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

More than an inconvenience, the deck’s closure might break a promise.

City officials have long claimed that a public observation deck at the Hancock was part of a deal with the City of Boston to build the massive structure in the first place.

“That’s a rumor that’s been out there 15 years, I haven’t seen the document, and somebody, if they have the document, let me see it,” said Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

A spokeswoman for the Boston Redevelopment Authority told WBZ-TV they have looked for the paperwork that says the deck must be public, but that paperwork is missing.

“I’ve heard that whispered. I’ve never seen anything memorializing it,” said Meg Mainzer-Cohen of the Back Bay Association.

In a statement, the company that currently owns the Hancock, Boston Properties, gave their own explanation.

“The Observatory at the John Hancock Tower was closed after September 11 and converted to office space by the prior owner… [T]here are no plans to reopen the observatory,” said Boston Properties, in a statement.

“It was certainly a public benefit and one that we all enjoyed. But there are changes to our day-to-day lives based on what happened on 9/11,” said Mainzer-Cohen.

The current owners do occasionally rent out the 60th floor for private functions.

Comments (8)
  1. justsayin' says:

    By keeping the observation deck closed we are letting the terrorists win.

    Come on Boston Properties time to open it up again.

    1. BILL says:


  2. dave says:

    they are renting it out to hgh profile partys i was at 1 a month ago

  3. Drobertson says:

    Really don’t understand why they closed it. Sounds like they just used the events of 9/11 as an excuse so they could make money off renting the floor out.

  4. I agree says:

    I agree with Justsayin’s comment 110 percent! OPEN it back up, for crying out loud you STILL allow people to work there so why not open it to the visitors. I mean look at the Twin Towers as a related example to letting the terrorists win, I say they should have re-built both of them with enhanced safety and security features, not just one, since we are still letting the terrorists win! not cool.

  5. A says:

    maybe someone knows the answer to this.

    Back in the day, on the observation floor, they had an almost theater like setting in the center of the room. People would stand in a circle around a map of old Boston and a narrator would take the audience through the history of the revolution. The map on the floor would illuminate, sound effects etc etc.

    I remember enjoying that show alot and I think they moved it somewhere, just don’t know where

    Anyone knows ?

  6. Jon Churchill says:

    I think they need to reopen the observatory in the hancock tower! Was popular!

  7. Antron Argaiv says:

    How does closing the observation deck improve security?
    Sounds to me, they found a way to use 9/11 as an excuse to shut it down and convert it to office space, which paid better.

    Meanwhile, the observation deck at the Pru remains open…no security issues there?

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