Chicago Public Library (since 1991, the Chicago Cultural Center)

Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge (A. H. Coolidge, design architect)

Designed by the Boston firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the library is in the beaux-arts style. Beaux-Arts Classicism (a kind of academic classicism taking its name from the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris) is a kind of eclectic revival style, often with Greek, Roman or Renaissance models. Here, like a Renaissance palazzo, the facade has three registers with arched windows in the dominant piano nobile. Colonnades line the top story under a heavy cornice. Entrances, however, are on the short ends, rather than monumentally placed in the center of a long front. Dedicated in 1897 as the first permanent home of the Chicago Public Library, it is now the Chicago Cultural Center. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1976.

The "people's palace," as the building has come to be known


The South Entrance (Washington Street)


Details of the South Entrance (Washington Street)

The center and right images were contributed to this site by my friend NGUYEN HOANG BICH NGOC.

See views of the fabulous interior.

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© 2005 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

Page created by Mary Ann Sullivan