Harold Washington Plaque

Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American Mayor, was born on April 15, 1922 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. To mark his birthday, a plaque paying tribute to Harold Washington has just been placed at the library’s State Street entrance beneath the arch with his name carved in stone. A graduate of DuSable High School, Roosevelt College and Northwestern Law School, Harold Washington was an avid reader and a champion of the Chicago Public Library. As described in the Harold Washington brochure, “When he became Mayor in 1983, he inherited Mayor Jane Byrne’s plan to transform the old Goldblatt’s Department Store into the central library. Reports about the building’s deficiencies, however, led Washington to scrap the Goldblatt’s project. He proposed that the city construct a new building for the library on the city-owned, block-square site at Van Buren and State Streets in the South Loop. Washington named a jury for an international design competition in early November 1987. Just two weeks later he died, but his dream of a state-of-the-art building for the central library lived on. To honor Harold Washington’s leadership, devotion to books and reading, regard for education, and support of the central building project, the library was named for him.”

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