Cultural Center, Chicago
The Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the public library, is a magnificent building that provides an unusual role as a cultural center for the public, with free art exhibits, performances, lectures, workshops, and more in a magnificent setting.
As I note in my "Untouchables" tip, it also provided the location for several scenes in the film The Untouchables.
The building is beautiful and should be toured just for its architecture. There was an exhibit on the top floor that was fun, funny, and insightful. There is also artwork on the ground floor as well. The visitors center for the city is located inside of the building as well.
Chicago Cultural Center houses a useful tourist information office (where I found the leaflet which led me to the jewel of Second Presbyterian Church) but it's also somewhere you should visit for itself.
The building dates from 1897 and was originally the city's library. It is a typical example of 'Victorian' civic building, complete vaguely-ancient-Greek architecture....you'll see hundreds of similar examples in the UK. But inside there are the most beautiful stained-glass domes (at least one is Tiffany, and is claimed to be the largest Tiffany dome in the world), and white Carrara marble staircases, and exquisite glittering mosaic panels.
There are also events and exhibitions: check the website below for information.
Don't just visit the TI office: take the time to explore the building a little more. It will repay your efforts. I wouldn't have done so if it had not been for Chicago VT-er Riorich55, who introduced me to the beauties within the building. :-)
Seems everyone who can, does. Not easy getting up onto the large
statue of a steer outside the cultural center, but once I saw someone do it, I decided
that I could do it also. Swing one leg up and have someone give you a big push.
Construction of this magnificient Neo-classic building began in 1893, and in 1897 it opened as the Chicago Central Library, which then was the city's main library. It remained as such until the Harold Washington Library Center opened in 1991. The building then reopened as the Chicago Cultural Center, a center for performing, visual and literary arts. Access to the building is free, and it's well worth stopping by to take a look at its impressive architecture and design. My own favorite feature was the huge Tiffany dome that sits on top of the Preston Bradley Hall. It is the largest stained-glass Tiffany dome in the world and it is valued at $35 million! As I walked through the CCC, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed as a major book lover that it wasn't a library anymore. I later made it to the Harold Washington Library Center (see Photo 4), and although as one of the world's largest public libraries it offers way more space than the old Chicago Central Library, it definitely doesn't have as much charm. But anyways, once you're done walking around the building, you can also stop by some of the Center's free exhibits. I thought the Chicago Landmark Gallery, a photo collection of the city's historic, cultural and architectural heritage, was especially interesting.
Proclaimed one of Chicago's historical landmarks in 1976, the Cultural Center is a splendid sight to see with it's amazing architecture and design. Its exterior appearance and its interior spaces are based on classical Greek and Italian Renaissance precedents. The interior is extensively decorated with mosaics, marbles, bronze, and two stained-glass domes designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company. This building hosts an array of art exhibitions, films, theatrical performances, and other programs. To see what's available check out the website below.
This should be the first place visitors to Chicago stop, in addition to being one of the coolest buildings in town, it's also one of the city's official visitor centers and home to hundreds of of FREE cultural performances- lectures, art exhibits, films, music, theater, and films. The website below has a listing of all of the offerings.
The free el tour is on hiatus for the 2009-2010 season, I suspect another casualty of the current economic woes, but you can still pick up an Instagreeter for an impromtu tour of the downtown loop area Friday-Sunday.
This wonderful building was completed in 1897 and served as Chicago's main library. Thanks to the efforts of Eleanor "Sis" Daley (current mayor's mother, wife of Richard J. Daley, mayor from 1955-1976), the building was preserved and in 1991 it was converted into the Cultural Center when the Chicago Public Library moved to it's new home, the Harold Washington Library on State Street.
Even if you are just checking out the visitors center, be sure to have a look around the interior, especially on the second floor where there are two gorgeous glass domes, one by Tiffany and the other by Healy & Millet. I always take people to the Randolph side first to see the dome in the Grand Army of the Republic rotunda and then show them the more impressive Tiffany dome on the Washington Street side, always save the best for last. There is also a photography exhibit on the lower level, usually of Chicago architecture.
If it's cold or rainy and you are heading back to Macy's on State or other points west, you can take the elevator on the Randolph St. side down to the pedway.
I'll be at the meeting! Just want to add that one of my volunteer gigs is that of a Chicago Greeter. The Greeter thing is global now and is fantastic--you can get a free tour of any area of the city that you choose and the city even provides a bus pass to get there. I do Old Town, Chinatown, Beverly, South Loop and all the downtown stuff. Go to Chicagogreeter.com to see more.
This isn't an advertisement because it's all free. Just wanted you to know that it's available. I had a Paris Greeter last November--same concept and I really enjoyed it.
This is the view that first greeted me as I came upon the Chicago Cultural Center, at about the half-way point of my Sunday morning walk as I made my way south and toward Millenium Park on the Lake Michigan shore. Its 1897 Classical Revival style exterior was quite a change from the mostly 1920s buildings I had been paying attention to up till then! It actually started out as the Chicago Public Library at a colossal cost of $2 million dollars but its three-foot thick masonry walls faced with Bedford limestone have withstood the tests of time very well. Following renovations in 1977, it was for a short time known as the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center. Its final transition was made in 1991 when the building was reborn again as the Chicago Cultural Center after the Library portion relocated to the new state-of-the-art Harold Washington Library Center.
Following my lunchtime meal with Deecat and Dabs, they took me on a quick but interesting tour inside the building where I was able to appreciate its very ornate interior first-hand (photos 2, 3 and 4) as well as some exquisite music as a live concert was in-progress in one of its halls. The interior is extensively decorated with mosaics, marbles, bronze, and two stained-glass domes designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, but one of the domes was blocked from view due to restoration.
I went there an a school trip to look at some works of art,I think the true art, the true culture, was in the building it self. The South Staircase with winding rails was majestic, as well as the hall which housed it. An arched entrance way with the names of the great writers of the ages carved in marble. The Grand Army of the Republic Hall, with famous battles of the Civil War remembered throughout it. The Preston Bradley Hall with it's Tiffany Dome (a major piece of art in it's own). And inscriptions from every language imaginable to the human tongue. These are the things that fascinated me. These are the things that brought the building to life. These where the things that impressed me the most as works of art.
The Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Cultural Center is a great first stop on your visit. There are countless brochures, maps, and other resources to help you plan your trip. This is also where you can pick up free tickets for the Loop Tour Train, which is offered on Saturdays from May through September at 11am, 11:40am, 12:20pm, and 1pm. The tour takes place on an elevated train that circles the Loop 3 times while a tour guide describes the history and architecture. While you're at the Cultural Center, check out the 38-foot Tiffany stained-glass dome in the Preston Bradley Hall in the south end of the building. You may also want to take a look at the schedule of performances during your visit, as they claim to be "one of the most comprehensive free arts showcases in the United States."
Visitor Center Hours
Monday - Thursday: 8am - 7pm
Friday: 8am - 6pm
Saturday: 9am - 6pm
Sunday: 10am - 6pm
Holidays: 10am - 4pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
Spend sometime tracking down the movie locations used on The Untouchbles.
The Cultural Centre is one where Al Capone lurked and sweet-talked the Chicago press as well as murdering one of his henchmen.
Apart from all that it is a glorious building. Beautiful stairways and domed roofs - definatley worth exploring.
This picture is of the Preston Bradley Hall on the third floor, the dome is reputed to be the largest Tiffany dome in the world. Its supposed to be worth $35 million.
The second picture is the Roosevelt University where Ness confronted Capone.
"One reason for knowing the history of Chicago is that the history of Chicago is the history of the Middle West. & the history of the Middle West is, to a larger extent than the school textbooks have ever permitted us to discover, the history of the nation." Floyd Dell
On January 6,2007, I met at the former Chicago Public Library [now the Chicago Cultural Center] to start a wonderful VT meet, Chicago style. This great day was orchestrated by our very own Dabs [Kristi] because we were having special VT visitors, Balfor [Chris] from Atlanta; Cjg1 [Chris] from New York City, & Kristara [Janet] also from New York City
I came into the building on the 77 East Randolph St. Side. There, I enjoyed a cup of coffee from the Randolph Cafe. On this 1st floor is the Chicago Office of Tourism & Visitor Information Center, a great place to obtain information about the city or where many city tours begin.
Once we all arrived, we went to the 2nd floor to see the Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda & Memorial Hall. The 2nd floor of the Randolph side was 1st designed as a memorial for the Grand Army of the Republic. Here we saw the 40 foot diameter leaded glass dome which Chicago glassmaking firm [Healy and Millet] executed.
The walls are made of Tennessee marble. I loved the decorative plaster ceilings & the walls of Vermont marble that are inscribed with the names of "notable battles'.
On the 3rd floor, originally where library patrons would receive their books, exists a dramatic space. I especially love the mosaics & the 38 foot diameter leaded glass dome. It has a central oculus with signs of the zodiac. The light fixtures were made by Tiffany Glass Company of New York. In this area, the decorative details use symbols that relate to libraries, books, and printing. I also noted marble panels with quotations [of many different languages!]
There are 4th and 5th floors, but I have not seen them.
Opened in 1897 as the first central Chicago Public Library, the CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER today serves as a mecca for performers and visitors, offering hundreds of free art exhibitions, concerts and public programs throughout the year. Also here you can see the world's largest Tiffany stained-glass dome. Thanks Kristi for bringing us up there. It was absolutely breath-taking.
During your visit, you can have a coffee and a snack in the cafe', pick up a souvenir in the gift shop, or stop in the Visitor Information Center (located off the Randolph Street Lobby ) to learn more about what Chicago has to offer. I picked up a small bag full of brochures and booklets to help me with my pages and to put in my Chicago scrapbook.
The Michigan Avenue Galleries are located on the east side of the first floor. The Chicago Room Galleries are on the east side of the second floor. The Sydney R. Yates Gallery and the Exhibit Hall ar both located on the fourth floor on the Randolph Street side of the building.
CLAUDIA CASSIDY THEATER
A variety of performances, films and lectures are held here and it is located on the second floor on the Randolph Street side.
A busy center, operated by Chicago's Department on Aging that presents a variety of programs for people age 55 and older.
Open Monday - Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday 8:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m.
The building is closed on public holidays, but the Visitor Information Center is open from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. with the exception of Christmas and Thanksgiving
The architecture alone is a reason to visit this spot, but it's also extremely peaceful, and there's even a cafe inside.
There wasn't a whole lot to see when I came (a great photo exhibit on Chicago neighborhoods), but it was a wonderful place to sit down and rest from the walk around the city.