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Chicago Public Library

September 26, 2010

I’m in Chicago for a conference and took some time on Friday to check out the Chicago Public Library.  The building is gorgeous and spans one full block.  It is the largest public library system in the midwest.  According to the website, the library was created shortly after the historic Chicago fire:

After Chicago’s Great Fire of October 8, 1871, A.H. Burgess of London proposed an “English Book Donation,” which he described, two months later, in the Tribune on December 7, 1871. “I propose that England should present a Free Library to Chicago, to remain there as a mark of sympathy now, and a keepsake and a token of true brotherly kindness forever…”

“A keepsake and a token of true brotherly kindness.”  What an awesome quote.  The library is filled with quotes just as amazing as this one.  Throughout the nine floors, you’ll find inspirational quotes from folks like Henry David Thoreau, Carl Sandberg and John F. Kennedy highlighted in black on the white walls.   One of my favorites was JFK’s: “Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors.”

I made my way up to the seventh floor (literature) but stopped at a really interesting exhibit on Roosevelt and the WPA (Work Progress Administration), which helped create jobs after the Great Depression.  I also checked out the architectural drawings and models from the agencies that designed remodels of the library in 1987.  The design was part of a huge contest created by Mayor Harold Washington.

Finally on the seventh floor, I made sure that my favorite author was well represented in the stacks:

Then I ventured up to the top floor and found the most beautiful room ever:

I walked around this wonderful bright and sunny room and was amazed.  You can rent out this room for weddings and other events, but it was just wonderful to walk through it while it wasn’t full of tables and chairs and clutter.  I would have loved to just sit under the atrium window and read for the afternoon.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2010 7:53 pm

    What a gorgeous library!

  2. September 26, 2010 10:43 pm

    There is a great documentary about the design competition that they had to build the library. I remember seeing it when I was in high school.

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