The Newberry Library

chicago newberry library
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Walter Loomis Newberry is one of those famous Chicagoans to whom we sure owe a lot. He helped spur Chicagoan’s interest in the literary arts and preserve Chicago history during the mid 1800s. Sure you could go and pay homage to Chicago’s library legend, buried at Graceland Cemetery, or you could visit the legacy he left behind in this city in the form of a stunning and nationally known library.

Newberry arrived in Chicago in 1833 from Detroit and quickly became successful in various ventures in real estate, banking, and railroads. During his life in Chicago, Newberry showed his first interest in literature and fostering a community for research and reading. He founded the Chicago Young Men’s Library Association in 1841 and later went on to serve on the Chicago Historical Society. Newberry died in 1868 after years of failing health, but ordered as one of his bequests that Chicago build a public library on the city’s North Side. At the time of his death, Chicago had no public library, but would soon form one in the location of what is now theChicago Cultural Center. After the death of his wife, the library was finally established in 1887.

The building we visit today was designed by the Newberry’s first librarian William Frederick Poole and architect Henry Ives Cobb and was erected in 1893. Since then the library has greatly expanded and its emphases’ have broadened. The building is non-circulating and privately endowed, but is free and open to the public.

The space holds more than 1.5 million books, five million manuscript pages, and 500,000 historic maps. It also has a particularly strong emphasis in Chicago history and Midwestern authors’ manuscripts. Visitors must be 16 years of age or older and present valid photo identification, and reference librarians are available to help. Researchers are also welcome to use the Newberry’s Reading Room. The library is always featuring unique and exciting programs, lectures, seminars and exhibits, so be sure to check their website and make a visit soon. There is also a gift shop and bookstore on site.

Basic Info:
Address: 60 W. Walton
Phone: (312) 943–9090

Getting There:
L: Red Line (Chicago)
Bus: #70
Driving: From Lake Shore Dr., exit at Michigan Avenue.

Admission Hours & Prices:
Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-1pm
Closed on Sundays, Mondays, and most public holidays.
Free tours are offered Thursdays at 3pm and Saturdays at 10:30am. Reservations for groups required.


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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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