Chicago Sights

Harold Washington Library Center

  • 400 S. State St. Map It
  • South Loop
  • Library/Archive

Published 08/31/2015

Fodor's Review

Opened in 1991 and named for Chicago's first African-American mayor, this library was primarily designed by architect Thomas Beeby, of Hammond, Beeby & Babka. Gargantuan and almost goofy, the granite-and-brick edifice is a uniquely postmodern homage to Chicago's great architectural past. The heavy, rusticated ground level recalls the Rookery; the stepped-back, arched windows are a reference to the great arches in the Auditorium Theatre; the swirling terra-cotta design is pinched from the Marquette Building; and the glass curtain wall on the west side is a nod to 1950s modernism. The huge, gargoyle-like sculptures atop the building include owls, a symbol of wisdom. The excellent Children's Library, an 18,000-square-foot haven on the second floor, has vibrant wall-mounted figures by Chicago imagist Karl Wirsum. Works by noted Chicago artists are displayed along a second-floor walkway above the main lobby. There's also an impressive Winter Garden with skylights on the ninth floor. Free programs and performances are offered regularly.

Sight Information

Address:

400 S. State St., Chicago, Illinois, 60605, USA

Map It

Phone:

312-747–4300

Sight Details:

  • Mon.–Thurs. 9–9, Fri. and Sat. 9–5, Sun. 1–5

Published 08/31/2015

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