Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago

Photo of Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Chicago Cultural Center
Formerly:Chicago Public Library
Formerly:Dearborn Park

78 East Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60602
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Today a repository of cultural information, its form gives away its original purpose -- a repository of knowledge. This was the first permanent home of the Chicago Public Library. Its stately columns give away its municipal heritage, while its large windows show that light infiltration was of paramount importance. Those first books that filled its stacks after the Great Fire were donations from Britain, and were an important symbol of the global outpouring of sympathy and support, which followed the destruction. Just as the start of work on the library in 1871 symbolized new life in Chicago, the building, itself, was given a new life in 1991. That's when the city's new public library, The Harold Washington Library center, opened, freeing this building to evolve for use in its current mission.

Quick Facts
Timeline
  • 1920's: A plan was drawn up to erect a 1,320-foot-tall steel tower topped with an aircraft beacon above this building.
  • 1930's: The exterior of the Preston Bradley dome was covered with concrete blocks to protect it.
  • 1960's: The space between the Preston Bradley dome and its cover was illuminated, simulating the natural light that was intended to pass through it.
  • 2008: The dome over Preston Bradley Hall was renovated by Holabird & Root, removing the cover and once again exposing it to sunlight as it was meant to be.
Notes
  • The dome over Preston Bradley Hall was designed by Jacob Holzer of Tiffany Glass and Decorating. It is 38 feet in diameter.
Did You Know?
  • This location was once Dearborn Park.
  • Part of the land on which this building was erected was donated to Civil War veterans by the United States Government. That is why there is a "Grand Army of the Republic Hall" in the building.
  • The Preston Bradley dome is made up of 240 panels with more than 30,000 individual pieces of glass.
Look For
  • Tiffany glass domes in the north and south ends of the building, as well as other mosaics by the Tiffany studios.
Controversy
  • The Tiffany glass dome at Bradley Hall is claimed to be the largest in the world. This has not been verified, however.
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Your Thoughts

There are two comments.

  A great example of adaptive reuse. Stunning photos of the domes as well.

Gregory - Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 @ 10:55am  

  The building on the inside is very much so beautiful! yet the staff there is very rude, but they cant take away the charm of the old library!!!

kirby - Thursday, December 7th, 2006 @ 8:51pm