Free Exhibit Harold Washington Library The HWL hosts free art and educational exhibits throughout the year in different locations in the Library.
Exhibit: From Swamps to Parks: Building Chicago’s Public Spaces at Harold Washington Library Center
Where: Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, 9th Floor
When: Exhibit runs through August 2021.
Free Exhibit Harold Washington Library -How to Visit
Face masks and temperature checks are required to enter Harold Washington Library Center. Social distancing and masks are required in the exhibit gallery. No more than 18 visitors are allowed in the gallery at a time.
From Swamps to Parks: Building Chicago’s Public Spaces is on display now in Harold Washington Library Center’s 9th floor exhibit hall. This exhibit examines six Chicago Park District icons—the lakefront, the Museum of Science and Industry, the fieldhouse, Soldier Field, Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Zoo—and in doing so reveals Chicago’s commitment to building public spaces.
Unfortunately this exhibit isn’t available online. I won’t be going to it since we are on lockdown. However the CPL has amazing Special Collections from which this exhibit is from.
The exhibit features highlights from the Chicago Park District Archive at CPL’s Special Collections. On display are landscape and architectural drawings, photographs, toys, and archival and conservation materials. See exhibit highlights and hear from the curators in the WBEZ story “Historical Photos Revisit the Rise of Parks and Public Spaces in Chicago’s Bygone Eras.”
The Chicago Park District Archive, from which this exhibit is largely drawn, consists of over 106,000 park drawings and more than 62,000 park photographs. You can view 10,000 of these images in our Chicago Park District digital collection.
- Coloring sheets based on archival items featured in the exhibit
- Chicago Parks booklist: Further reading on Chicago parks and nature
- Quiz: Do You Know Chicago Parks? Part 2
About the Chicago Public Library
1871: After the Chicago Fire, Thomas Hughes, a prominent member of British Parliament supports a plan to donate more than 8,000 books to Chicago. Chicago citizens petition for a free public library. Previous libraries were private membership-only. The Children’s Library at Harold Washington Library Center is named after Thomas Hughes
1872: The Illinois Library Act of 1872, authorized cities to establish tax-supported libraries throughout the state. The City Council passed an ordinance proclaiming the establishment of Chicago Public Library.
1873: The Chicago Public Library opens at the southeast corner of LaSalle and Adams streets in a circular water tank that survived the fire. The library moved several times during its first 24 years, including an 11-years on the fourth floor of City Hall.
1874: A delivery station system of outposts served Chicago’s neighborhoods mostly in stores. Patrons could call for a book, which was delivered by horse-drawn carriage to the outpost nearest their home. By the early 1900s deposit stations accounted for two-thirds of the circulation of the CPL Library.
1897: October 11, the Central Library, on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Randolph streets, opens in what is now the Chicago Cultural Center. The building cost about $2 million, was designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge. The building was designed to be practically incombustible. Preston Bradley Hall, contains a dome and hanging lamps by Tiffany Glass.
1904: Isabella N. Blackstone donates funds to construct the first branch library, located in the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods. The library was modeled after the famous Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
1916: Chief Librarian Henry E. Legler presented a library plan calling for an network of neighborhood library locations to bring library service within the walking distance for every person in Chicago. The plan called for several regional libraries with more comprehensive collections. The first regional library, the Henry E. Legler Regional Library, opened in 1920 in West Garfield Park.
1918: Carl B. Roden, who began work as a library page in 1886, was appointed chief librarian. Over 32 years (1918-1950) he increased staff, holdings, circulation and total expenditures exponentially. The Carl B. Roden Branch in the Norwood Park neighborhood, where he resided, is named in his honor.
1960s: CPL added a significant number of neighborhood branch libraries, via new construction or leasing storefronts or reading rooms. By 1985, there were 76 branches.
1991: The new main library the Harold Washington Library Center opened October 7.
1995: Chicago Public Library established its website.
1996: A three-year, $65 million capital improvement plan begins building or renovating 52 neighborhood libraries.
2000: $44 million in neighborhood library construction begins.