My daughter Jill and I recently visited the Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Information Center located in Chicago's first central library. Just seeing this fantastic landmark building is worth the trip there.
The Cultural Center is where many of Chicago's tours begin [such as theOffice of Tourism's Chicago Neighborhood Tours].
It's a really good idea to visit the Visitor Information Center when you arrive in the city because you will receive great city maps [free], tons of free publications about the city and surrounding areas, and there are friendly/helpful information representatives there to answer your questions.
This is not the only Visitor Center in the city, but it is the largest. TheChicago's Historic Water Tower Visitor Center at 163 East Pearson Avenue is another such center that I have visited.
On the day that Jill and I visited The Cultural Center, we walked out of there with a bag of free maps and pamphlets; in addition, we had been assisted by a very kind gentleman who looked up information and wrote it in one of the booklets with a "hard to find important phone number'.
If you want to be organized and unintimidated on your visit to Chicago, by all means, visit the Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Information Center.
"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.
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.
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
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.
Formerly the main branch of the Chicago Public Library, this "Beaux Arts" building (from 1897) now serves as a regional center for the arts. It has been carefully restored and well tended over the last decade: there are some exquisite rooms here. If you are at all interested in 19th century design, you'll want to take a look at the wonderful glass domes inside the structure, one of which is billed at the largest Tiffany Dome in the world.
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.
Following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the British sent to the city an enormous amount of books, many signed by the biggest authors of the day. The assumption was that the city's library and collection were destroyed during the inferno. Funny thing was, the city of Chicago had no library before the fire. But with all these new book the city needed a place to house them, hence this beautiful Classical Revival-style structure at the corner of Washington and Michigan Avenue.
Now the Chicago Cultural Center, it's an excellent place to begin your forray into the city. There's an excellent visitor's center, a cafe and plenty of places to chill out and relax. There are also some exhibits inside that are worth a visit. Check out Radio Hall of Fame, chronicling that great medium from the earliest days to the present. The Museum of Broadcast Communication is a great nostalgia trip, especially for those who grew up on the Bozo Show, Garfield Goose and the other great children's shows that eminated from WGN in Chicago. And do not miss the small but impressive photographic exihibt Landmark Chicago featuring the work of the true heroes of the Chicago's preservation movement like Richard Nickel, Bob Thall and Barbara Crane.
The Chicago Cultural Center was formerly the Chicago Public Library until it moved to Jackson and Congress in the 90s. The Cultural Center is home to the museum of broadcasting and has several rotating exhibit. The main hall is magnificently decorated with rococco embellishments.
Its hours are from 8am-8pm most days.
There are a number of wonderful buildings along this broad boulevard with parks scattered along the way. The wide sidewalks and scale of these buildings seems reminiscent of Washington, DC. I would prefer this district to that of the skyscrapers which Chicago seems to love. The city has a propensity to tear down and rebuild things constantly. Maybe it's a carry over from when they had to rebuild after the big Chicago fire or something. Some of the tearing down is disconcerting to a preservationist. Altho they do retain many interesting period buildings as well....to be fair.
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.
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.
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.
This is housed in what used to be the main library. They host art exhibits, readings, and so forth, plus it's a really pretty building. It also houses the Museum of Broadcast Communication, of note because Chicago was very important in the early history of radio.
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.