Obama Library coming to Chicago

“Obama family portrait in the Green Room” by Annie Leibovitz / Released by White House Photo Office

News that the Obama Presidential Library will be built on the South Side of Chicago has been an open secret in this city for several weeks now. Still unknown is exactly which South Side park will be home to the $600 million Obama Presidential LIbrary.

In a video announcing the decision, the President and First Lady said South Side of Chicago “means the world” to their family.

“All the strands of my life came together and I really became a man when I moved to Chicago,” President Obama said. “That’s where I was able to apply that early idealism to try to work in communities in public service. That’s where I met my wife. That’s where my children were born.”

“Every value, every memory, every important relationship to me exists in Chicago,” said First Lady Michelle Obama, who was born and raised in the city. ” I consider myself a South Sider.”

The news is expected to be a boom to the South Side, now a troubled area of the city. The exact location of the library will be in either:

  • Jackson Park, site of a world’s fair in 1893, was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park in New York City. The park sprawls along the Lake Michigan shoreline and is home to the venerable Museum of Science and Industry (my favorite museum since the day I first visited on a third grade field trip).
  • Washington Park, a spot the city had put forth as a possible location for its 2016 Summer Olympics bid, which Chicago lot to Rio de Janeiro. It’s one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago and could certainly benefit from the economic and tourism boon the Obama Presidential Library is expected to bring to Chicago.