The Chicago Public library has its headquarters in Chicago and is known as the Harold Washington Library. It includes 79 branches and serves the greater Chicagoland area. Since 1989, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library have opened 52 new or renovated neighborhood libraries — unprecedented public library growth. These new libraries are that special third place — beyond home and work — where people come to improve their lives, nourish their intellect or simply to be entertained.

Background


The Chicago Public Library was created directly from the ashes of the great Chicago Fire. After Chicago’s Great Fire of October 8, 1871, A.H. Burgess of London proposed an "English Book Donation" he plan carried the support of Thomas Hughes, a prominent Member of Parliament and the well-known author of Tom Brown's School Days, who had visited Chicago in 1870. The impending donation, consisting of over 8,000 books from England, prompted leading citizens of Chicago to petition for a public meeting to establish a Free Public Library. Previous libraries in Chicago were private libraries that required membership fees for their services. The public meeting led to the Illinois Library Act of 1872, authorizing cities to establish tax-supported libraries throughout Illinois.

During the 75 years of great neighborhood library expansion, it became increasingly clear that the Chicago Public Library had outgrown its Central Library on Michigan Avenue. Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and Chicago's civic leaders planned for the construction of a new Central Library. The designated site for the new Central Library was 400 S. State Street, a one-and-one-half block tract in the South Loop. On July 29, 1987, Mayor Harold Washington and the City Council authorized a design/build competition and approved a bond issue to finance the project.

Under the rules of the competition, architects and builders teamed up to design the building within the set price of $144 million. Five design teams consisting of architects and builders submitted their design plans in a widely publicized competition. The five library finalists were put on display at the Cultural Center. (You can still see models of the four runner-ups in far southeast corner of the Harold L. Washington library's 8th floor; the model of the winner can be found in the "Called to Challenge" exhibit on 9.)

Public comment was solicited. Within the first several days more than 5,000 people filled out cards. Eventually, The 11-person jury decided on the entry submitted by that of the architect firm of Hammond, Beeby & Babka, Inc. The Library Board also decided that the new Central Library would be named after the late Mayor, Harold Washington, the city's first African American mayor, a great lover of books and advocate of the Chicago Public Library, who had died on November 25, 1987.

In the end, Chicago got a library that combined the latest in construction innovations with an old-world flavored architecture that fits right in with the classic Chicago buildings. Despite being largely understaffed, operations here run fairly smoothly. The collection is huge, encompassing 756,000 square feet and 10 levels, not including a rooftop winter penthouse garden. Among its more than 13 million pieces are innumerable rare manuscripts, books, art and sound archives.

Features


  • The lower level houses the auditorium, Multi-Purpose Room and Exhibit Hall.
  • The central lobby is two stories tall. On the east side, the popular library is housed.
  • The second floor houses the Thomas Hughes Children’s library.
  • The third floor is the floor that is the entrance to the main library. The circulation desk, book check-in/check-out, computers for public use, periodicals, interlibrary loan and general information services department.
  • The fourth floor holds the business, general sciences, and technology items.
  • The fifth floor holds government publications, Chicago municipal references, maps, and center for the blind, visually impaired and physically disabled.
  • The sixth floor holds social sciences and history resources.
  • The seventh floor holds literature and language resources
  • The eighth floor holds visual and performing arts resources, music practice rooms, and audio/visual rooms.
  • The ninth floor holds the winter garden, which may be rented for social functions, special collection and preservation department, the Harold Washington archives and collections and exhibit halls.
  • The tenth floor is not open to the public. It houses library offices and technical services.

Branches


North

Sulzer Regional Library

South

Woodson Regional Library

North District


North Austin Branch
  • Albany Park Branch
  • Austin-Irving Branch
  • Harold Bezazian Branch
  • Bucktown-Wicker Park Branch
  • Budlong Woods Branch
  • Edgebrook Branch
  • Edgewater Branch
  • Galewood-Mont Clare Branch
  • Humboldt Branch
  • Independence Branch
  • Jefferson Park Branch
  • Lincoln-Belmont Branch
  • Lincoln Park Branch
  • Logan Square Branch
  • Mayfair Branch
  • John Merlo Branch
  • North Austin Branch
  • North Pulaski Branch
  • Northtown Branch
  • Oriole Park Branch
  • Portage-Cragin Branch
  • Roden Branch
  • Rogers Park Branch
  • Uptown Branch
  • West Addison Branch
  • West Belmont Branch

Central District


Chicago Bee Branch
  • Archer Heights Branch
  • Austin Branch
  • Back of the Yards Branch
  • Blackstone Branch
  • Brighton Park Branch
  • Canaryville Branch
  • Chicago Bee Branch
  • Chinatown Branch
  • Richard J. Daley Branch
  • Douglass Branch
  • Eckhart Park Branch
  • Gage Park Branch
  • Garfield Ridge Branch
  • George Cleveland Hall Branch
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch
  • Legler Branch
  • Rudy Lozano Branch
  • Mabel Manning Branch
  • Marshall Square Branch
  • McKinley Park Branch
  • Midwest Branch
  • Near North Branch
  • Roosevelt Branch
  • Sherman Park Branch
  • Toman Branch
  • West Chicago Avenue

South District


  • Altgeld Branch
  • Avalon Branch
  • Beverly Branch
  • Brainerd Branch
  • Chicago Lawn Branch
  • Clearing Branch
  • Bessie Coleman Branch
  • Hegewisch Branch
  • Jeffery Manor Branch
  • Kelly Branch
  • Thurgood Marshall Branch
  • Mount Greenwood Branch
  • Pullman Branch
  • Scottsdale Branch
  • South Chicago Branch
  • South Shore Branch
  • Tuley Park Branch
  • Vodak East Side Branch
  • Walker Branch
  • West Englewood
  • West Lawn Branch
  • West Pullman Branch
  • Wrightwood-Ashburn Branch
  • Whitney M. Young, Jr. Branch


Construction Timeline


Construction start: 1989
Construction finish: 1991

Funding


On July 29, 1987, Mayor Harold Washington and the City Council authorized a design/build competition and approved a bond issue to finance the project.


Architect


Hammond, Beeby, and Babka
Commercial design firm offering architectural services to institutional, religious, and residential clients.
Hammond, Beeby, and Babka
Link includes shots of the interior of the library after construction

Contact information

Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 747-4300
Chicago Public Library
Mary A. Dempsey, Commissioner

References

Library building contest



Links

Library pictures from the architect (Includes images of the library)

Pictures of the library:
800px-4th_Level_Harold_Washington_Library.jpg
4th Floor; Obtained from Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU FreeDocumentation License
800px-3rd_Level_Harold_Washington_Library.jpg
3rd Floor; Obtained from Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU FreeDocumentation License.
CPL_front_view.jpg
Front view; Obtained from flickr.com under the terms of the Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.

CPL_reference_collection.jpg
Reference collection; Obtained from flickr.com under the terms ofthe Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.
800px-Lobby_Harold_Washington_Library.jpg
Library lobby; Obtained from flickr.com under the terms of theAttribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.








CPL_study_area.jpg
Study area; Obtained from flickr.com under the terms of the Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.



CPL_auditorium.jpg
Auditorium; Obtained from flickr.com under the terms of the Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.
CPL_children's_center_1.jpg
Children's library; Obtained from flickr.com under the terms ofthe Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.

CPL_children's_center.jpg
Children's area; Obtained from flickr.com under the terms of theAttribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.