Elevator Failures at Chicago High-Rise Rattle Passengers

Elevator Failures at Chicago High-Rise Rattle Passengers

 July 30, 2019 – Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff » By Greg Zimmerman ELEVATORS

It seems elevator failure is reaching near-epidemic proportions at the building formerly known as the John Hancock Center in Chicago. 

For the second time in a year, passengers got stuck in a malfunctioning elevator at the building now known as 875 North Michigan Avenue.  

The elevator with its large group of passengers, including a few elderly people, made it all the way from the 96th floor, where the group had been having drinks at the Signature Room, when it suddenly stopped just shy of the 2nd floor, according to the Chicago Tribune. Amidst some debris falling on the cab roof, scaring passengers, fire crews were able to force the doors open and the slightly rattled passengers escaped through the 4-foot gap. 

But the passengers were more upset with how the security guard handled the situation when the passengers pressed the emergency button. The communication about what was happening during the 20 minutes they were trapped was lacking, according to one passenger interviewed for the Tribune’s story. 

Another recent incident at the same building was a bit more mundane. Passengers were trapped when the doors malfunctioned, but were soon rescued.

The building management company for both buildings said the elevators were inspected last month, and both issues were a result of “mechanical or electronic issues.”

2 elevators got stuck at Chicago’s former John Hancock Center over a recent weekend: ‘I don’t know what they have to do’


2 elevators got stuck at Chicago’s former John Hancock Center over a recent weekend: ‘I don’t know what they have to do’
Marina Fichera-Bird, from left, Phil Bird, Colleen Bird and Kevin Rydz pose in an elevator they were stuck in at the skyscraper formerly known as the John Hancock Center, on July 21, 2019. (Marina Fichera-Bird)

After grabbing drinks on the 96th floor of the former John Hancock Center, Phil Bird, his wife, sister and her fiance got into an elevator with nine other people and headed to the ground floor.

Around the second floor, the elevator suddenly dropped a foot or two and stopped. Debris crashed against the roof and it sounded like the elevator was “caving in,” Bird said. “It went down seemingly fine,” said Bird, 37. Then the elevator “felt like it dropped suddenly about a foot or so.”

After several calls to building security and finally police, fire crews pried open the elevator’s door and helped the people get out through a 4-foot gap. “It shook us up,” said Bird, who lives in Ravenswood with his wife. “It put a damper on the whole thing.”

The incident on July 21 was one of two involving elevators in the building that weekend. Friday night into Saturday, five people were stuck in an elevator when the door would not open, building officials said.

No one was injured in either incident at the building, now known by its address 875 North Michigan Avenue. Building officials said they all had been inspected last month.

The former John Hancock Center.
The former John Hancock Center. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

Neither appeared to be as dramatic as one in November, when a cable on an express elevator broke and it dropped about nine floors before stopping. Firefighters broke through a brick wall from the parking garage to get to the six passengers. No one was injured in that incident either. That elevator was not involved in the problems experienced recently, according to Gregg Cunningham, a spokesman for the Buildings Department.

Building and city officials said the elevators were repaired and put back into service.

“The elevators traveled appropriately and came to controlled stops,” the Hearn Company, which manages the building, said in a statement. “Both groups of passengers were released safely and in a timely manner after elevator engineers diagnosed the issue and opened the doors.”Best Buy is closing its store in the former John Hancock Center, creating another Mag Mile vacancy »

“These stoppages are often triggered by mechanical or electronic issues,” the company said in another statement. “We understand that elevator stoppages can be concerning to passengers. This is why security personnel maintain contact with the passengers throughout the response.”

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