Harold Washington Library

Harold Washington Library

The Harold Washington Library Center is the central library for the Chicago Public Library System. It is named for former Mayor Harold Washington. It is located just south of the Loop 'L', at 400 S. State Street in Chicago. It is a full service library and ADA compliant. As with all libraries in the Chicago Public Library system, it has free wifi internet service. It is approximately convert|756640|sqft|m2. [cite web|url = http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/harold-washington/p/TourIndex/ | title = Harold Washington Library Center: Take a Tour]


It opened to the public October 7, 1991. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Hammond, Beeby and Babka, now known as Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, Inc., winners of the design competition. [cite web|url = http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=haroldwashingtonlibrary-chicago-il-usa| title = Harold Washington Library at Emporis web site]


buildings, among others.

The bottom portion is made of large granite blocks. Red brick makes up the majority of the exterior. These two portions look similar to the Beaux-Art style.cite web|url =http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/740668hwlc.html| title = Harold Washington Library Center from Univerity of Chicago Press] The top portion and most of the west side, facing Plymouth Court, is glass, steel and aluminum. The roof is a pediment with ornamentation and harkens to the Mannerist style.In 1993, seven ornamentations on the roof were added.

The acroterium on the State Street side representation of an owl. The acroteria on the Congress Parkway and on the Van Buren sides contain seed pods, which represent the natural bounty of the Midwest. The acroteria angularia contain an owl, representing the Greek symbol of knowledge, perched in foliage.

On the divide between the granite blocks and the brick portions are wall medallions that have the face of Ceres and ears of corn.

On the north, east and south sides of the build are five story tall arched windows. Between the windows are rope friezes.


All public doors lead to the lobby. The north public entrance on Van Buren is just east of the Brown Line’s Library-State/Van Buren stop. The corridor goes east then south then west and opens south to the lobby. The east and south public entrances open directly to the lobby. The west public entrance opens to the offices. The west corridor goes east then south to open at the lobby.

* The lower level houses the Cindy Pritzker 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 as well as a work by acclaimed Polish sculptor Jerzy Kenar.

* 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.


The Harold Washington Library opened on October 7, 1991. After the refurbishment of the Chicago Cultural Center in 1977, where the central library was housed, much of its collection was archived. A debate on a new central library ensued. This debate continued throughout most of the 1980s. In addition, a lack of funding contributed to the delay. Building a new central library was supported by the late Harold Washington, then mayor. Originally, the building was to have arched over VanBuren onto the area occupied by Pritzker Park, but this was deemed to be too expensive. With his support the building was finally built at Congress Parkway and State Street, covering an entire block. Upon completion, Mayor Richard M. Daley named the building in honor of Mayor Harold Washington. The Library has appeared in the "Guinness Book of Records" as the largest public library building in the world.

External links

* [http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/harold-washington/ Harold Washington Library] home page
* [http://www.chipublib.org/cpl.html Chicago Public Library] home page


See also

* Chicago Public Library
* Chicago architecture

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