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Harold Washington Library Center

RSVP required to visit this site.


400 S. State St.




Sat, Oct 19: 10am - 5pm

Sun, Oct 20: 1pm - 5pm

Family Friendly Photography Permitted Washrooms Available Wheelchair Accessible


Hammond, Beeby and Babka, 1991



Harold Washington Library Center is the central library location of the Chicago Public Library. Opened in 1991, it was named in honor of Mayor Harold Washington, the city of Chicago's first African American Mayor. The enormous building’s red stone exterior references other iconic Chicago buildings such as the Monadnock and The Rookery, but the enormous rooftop acroteria, in the form of copper owls, give it a distinctive presence. Always a hub of activity, the library houses over 1.2 million holdings, an award-winning Maker Lab, the newly-renovated Thomas Hughes Children's Library, cutting-edge Teen YouMedia space, dozens of works of art by notable artists, rotating exhibits, music practice rooms, and a beautiful Winter Garden.

Visitor Experience

On both Saturday and Sunday, drop by for a self-guided exploration of the building. Brochures pointing out special highlights for OHC visitors will be available in the Grand Lobby.

RSVP Only: On Saturday, a special guided experience will be offered. See the automated sorting machine that helps books move across the 220 square miles of Chicago, among the 81 branches of the country’s third largest library system. Then, head upstairs to Special Collections to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the amazing treasures that the Harold Washington Library holds, and learn how they are conserved and made available to the public by archivists. Please go to TodayTix for details on how you can join these tours.

More Info

Part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre trail.

2019 Year of Chicago Theatre