The Hancock Tower and the Solstice
In the early 80s, I worked at Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston's Copley
Square. It was my job to open the church to the public every weekday morning
at 0800. Its neighbor, the John Hancock building, was infamous for popping
its glass panels. These fell with great force, shattering into shards six
feet long, piercing car doors below. The Hancock has a peculiar shape,
a parallelepiped, wasting a good bit of space on the Clarendon Street
side. Trudging to work one morning, I saw the rising sun's rays run parallel
to that side, throwing shadow just to the left of the leftmost stained
glass window in the Trinity nave. That strange angle was calculated to
keep from blocking the light from that exquisite LaFarge glass. Then I
realized the date was December 21, the solstice. Just like Stonehenge,
the John Hancock Tower was designed at the behest of priests, in conformity
with the apparent course of the sun through the heavens.
© 2001 by Patrick McCollum.
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