Top 10 Things to Do at Harold Washington Library Center

Winter Garden glass ceiling

Lifelong Chicagoans and first-time visitors alike can always find something great to do at HWLC. Experience the outdoors, indoors: The breathtaking Winter Garden on the 9th floor is perfect for quiet contemplation, thoughtful conversation and a moment's peace in the bustling heart of downtown. Learn about the man whose name graces the building: The Special Collections […]

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The Great Chicago Fire Knocked the Loop for a Loop

Field, Leiter & Co. (later Marshall Field & Co.) before the 1871 Fire

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned the heart of Chicago, starting on DeKoven Street on the Near West Side (558 West, 1100 South) and going north to Fullerton Avenue. The Loop was destroyed, as can be seen in these maps. City Hall, Palmer House, Field, Leiter & Co.—all gone. But, with the rubble still […]

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Vital Voices: Jane Addams Hull House Museum

Source: Library of Congress, photo by Moffett

Where would Chicago be if it weren't for Jane Addams? September 18 marks the 125th anniversary of Hull House, the settlement founded by Jane Addams that changed the lives of many individual Chicagoans while also challenging the status quo through reform and activism. The Hull House Association, which carried on the social service aspect of Jane […]

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Celebrate Wizard of Oz’s Chicago Roots

Montgomery and Stone as the Scarecrow and Tinman at the Grand Opera House, 1902.

August celebrates the 75th anniversary of the release of the MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz. This favorite has roots in Chicago. L. Frank Baum wrote the children's story in 1900 while living in Chicago, and many speculate that the Emerald City was inspired by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition's famed White City. Baum's […]

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Happy Birthday, Preston Sturges

The Palm Beach Story

Next week marks what would have been the 116th birthday of the director, playwright and screenwriter Preston Sturges (August 29, 1898-August 6, 1959). Born in Chicago as Edmund Preston Biden, Sturges began a life in the theater at a young age when he traveled with his eccentric actress mother to Europe to work with Isadora Duncan. Later, as […]

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Higher and Higher: Skyscraper Appreciation Day

A view of the John Hancock building from the ground

Q:  What building has the most stories? A:  The library! Although Harold Washington Library Center is home to many stories, it’s actually only 10 floors tall. Chicago is lucky to have several world-famous skyscrapers like the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), the John Hancock Building and Trump Tower.  I love looking up at them from […]

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Hot Diggity Dog

Chicago-style hot dog

We all know there is only one way to eat a hot dog in Chicago and it most certainly does not include ketchup, however, other parts of the country can and do dress their dogs a little differently! For me, a hot dog once a year at a summer BBQ is enough, but since July is […]

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A City of Neighborhoods: Fiction Set in Chicago

In his book, Chicago: A Biography, Dominic Pacyga writes: “There seems to be a different Chicago around every street corner, behind every bar, and within every apartment, two-flat, cottage, or bungalow.” Those contrasting views of the city, especially Chicago’s many neighborhoods and its residents, have been well-represented by writers. Readers have had the opportunity to […]

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Ebert Fest Part Two: The Man, The Movies

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Ebert Fest has traditionally been curated by one of history's most loved film critics, and features a lineup of classics and new movies that may have been overlooked by other critics. Here are a few festival titles available in the library if you'd like to check them out or program your own fest. Young Adult […]

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Ebert Fest Part One: The Man, The Literature

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Last week the sixteenth annual Ebert Fest was presented in Roger Ebert's hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Ebert passed away shortly before his own curated festival last year. To understand the genius of one of the most popular film critics of all time, it is essential to read his literature to realize just how easily he […]

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