The Harold Washington Library: A Library in Honor of Chicago's First Black Mayor

Photo: Chicago Mayor Harold Lee Washington (b. April 15, 1922 – d. Nov. 25, 1987)

Born in Chicago on April 15, 1922, Harold Lee Washington would graduate from Roosevelt University and later Northwestern University Law School, both in Chicago. His political career included serving as a Illinois State Representative and a member of the U.S. House of Representative. Washington served the City of Chicago from 1983 until his death in 1987. He was among the earliest of Chicago's political advocates for the revitalization of the historic Bronzeville community on the South Side of Chicago.


The 10-story Harold Washington Library Center is the largest public library in the United States in collection volume. It opened October 1991 and was named in honor of the late mayor Harold Washington, the city's first Black mayor.

The Harold Washington Library Center provides full library services, exhibitions and lectures, a fully equipped video theater and television studio, a winter garden and coffee shop. It hosts the Harold Washington Archives and Collections, a "Chicago Blues" archive, and an art collection with representation dozens of Black artists.

Photo: "Events in the Life of Harold Washington,"
mosaic mural by Jacob Lawrence (Chicago, 1991)

In the Harold Washington Archives and Collection there is a permanent exhibition that documents Washington's political career. A mural-size mosaic by the late Black artist Jacob Lawrence titled "Events in the Life of Harold Washington" is located on the central lobby's north wall.

Photo: 9th Floor of The Harold Washington Library

Image: 4th Floor of The Harold Washington Library

Photo: Lobby of The Harold Washington Library

Across from the Jacob Lawrence work is "DuSable's Journey," a "cakewalk cosmogram" that traces the water routes taken by Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable from his native Haiti to to his new home in what is now known as Chicago. The map is encircled by a ring of excerpts taken from Harold Washington's first inaugural address. The Harold Washington Library Center is located at 400 S. State Street.

1 comment:

  1. Chicago is a bustling metropolis with a re-energized downtown that has a river running through it. Chicago is a major inland port city at the southern tip of Lake Michigan with a sparkling lakefront featuring 26 miles of shoreline and parks.see more at-events in Chicago


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