Harold Washington Library

harold washington library
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Since 1997, Harold Washington’s famous library has held its very own stop on the L’s Pink, Brown, Purple, and Orange lines. It was renamed Harold Washington Library-State & Van Buren in October 2010 in order to more properly pay tribute to the former mayor and namesake of our largest public library. Today the space is not only a library, but also a tourist attraction and architectural landmark.

In the 1970s, when the Chicago Cultural Center was deemed too small to hold the city’s expansive collection of library materials, then mayor Harold Washington commissioned for the construction of a new central library for the city. The entire block at Congress Parkway and State Street was chosen, and construction began on the building in 1987. The structure was completed in 1991 and new Mayor Richard M. Daley named the library in honor of Washington, by then deceased. The space has also been cited as the largest public library building in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.

After a contest to decide who would design the new library, Hammond, Beeby, & Babka won and began designing a building in the Beaux-Art and neoclassical styles. The building was constructed with 10 floors, including a lower level housing the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Multi-Purpose Room & Exhibit Hall and the 9th floor winter garden, often rented out for social functions. The main lobby features a large mural detailing the life and accomplishments of Harold Washington and the entrance to the Popular Library. The entire library is open to the public and like all Chicago Public Libraries has free wifi access. If you have a day to get lost in a pretty cool part of Chicago history, visit the Harold Washington Library. You’ll be amazed at what you might find there.

For more information on whats currently happening at the Harold Washington Library, check their main website.

The Basics:
Location: 400 S. State St.
Phone: 312.747.4300
Website: http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/harold-washington/

Getting There:
L: Brown, Purple, Orange, & Pink (Library); Red, Blue (Jackson)

Admission Hours & Prices:
Monday-Thursday: 9am-9pm
Friday-Sunday: 9am-5pm

Tessa McLean

About Tessa McLean

There is just something about that feeling when you have been away — maybe for a weekend, a month, 6 months — and you’re driving into Chicago and that first glimpse of the city skyline appears. It just always makes me smile.

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