Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago

Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Harold Washington Library Center
Formerly:Chicago Central Library

400 South State Street, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60605
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Quick Facts
Timeline
  • 1987: A competition to design, develop, and build a new central library was announced
  • May 15, 1988: The five finalists for the library competition were revealed
  • October 13, 1988: Groundbreaking
  • October 4, 1991: This building was dedicated
  • October 7, 1991: This building opened to the public
Notes
  • Developer: U.S. Equities
  • Design architecture firm: Hammond, Bebby and Babka
  • Architects of record: A. Epstein and Sons
  • Architecture firm: Delon Hampton and Associates
  • General contractor: Schal Associates
  • At the time of its completion, this was the largest public library in the United States
  • Because this was formerly paved a surface parking lot, dirt had to be brought in for the ceremonial first shoveling at the groundbreaking ceremony
Did You Know?
  • The library was named for Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor.
Look For
  • The modern interpretation of classical building decorations, including a head representing "Windy City," and Ceres, the goddess of grain with a necklace made out of corn and a ribbon with the city's motto on it ("Urbs in Horto").
Rate This Government Building
method='post' action='/Building.php?ID=1029#Rate'>Current rating:50% 60%  name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Praise' class='Plain'> name='Rating' id='Rating' value='Raze' class='Plain'>
Your Thoughts

There are three comments.

  Historical referentialism with a vengeance! In look, though not in structure, the building harks back to the days of thick load-bearing masonry walls. The reddish brick and granite surfaces are broken by five-story arched windows, ornamented with sculptural details, and and topped with a green metal pediment of no particular classical antecedents, with the peak and corners capped by rather theatrical, overscale acroteria. Perhaps the building's weakest feature is the apologetic mousehole of a main entrance on State Street, where something grander and more welcoming would certainly have been in order.

Alan Follett - Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 @ 4:25pm  

  However, I feel it is very deceiving from the outside vs. the inside. The inside is very crowded with these tiny little escalators all over.

Coatface - Saturday, May 8th, 2010 @ 10:56am  

  Blends in perfectly with the area. I thought it was an older building from the 19th century.

Dean - Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 @ 3:02pm  

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