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Obama picks Jackson Park for library site

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016

* Sneed with the scoop

A top Sneed source says the site of President Barack Obama’s Presidential Library will be Jackson Park, rather than Washington Park, which was considered the favored site months ago.

Among the reasons for the selection of Jackson Park?

The site’s great beauty, including its closeness to the water. Also, putting the library there will help build up the museum campus nearby.

It also has a pretty good golf course. I ran into the avid golfer Obama on that course years ago, back when I was still trying to play that crazy game and he was running for US Senate.

* Tribune

Located near the Museum of Science and Industry, the lakefront and the eastern edge of the University of Chicago campus, the site allows for the creation of a museum campus in the heart of the park, accented by an existing lagoon, lush woods and greenery. The winding 543-acre park is an oasis on the South Side. The center would be a short hop to either Lake Shore Drive or to two Metra train stations, strong pulls for visitors.

Jackson Park’s western edge along Stony Island Avenue connects with Woodlawn, an impoverished African-American neighborhood but one that is beginning to gentrify. And the Hyde Park neighborhood, just north of Woodlawn and surrounding the university, already is booming. […]

The hurdles would have been higher in the neighborhood near Washington Park, where one-third of the land is vacant. Decades ago the area was central to Chicago’s Black Belt, a robust cluster of neighborhoods that drew African-Americans from the South during the Great Migration. During the past half-century the population has plummeted, and nearly half the remaining residents live in poverty in an area plagued by crime.

Washington Park had been the centerpiece of the city’s 2016 Olympic bid — the site for a massive temporary stadium and swimming venue — and many residents believed that endeavor would help turn around their impoverished neighborhood just west of the park. The bid failed in 2009, and now residents of this struggling area must live with a second major disappointment.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Chicago_Downstater - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 1:45 pm:

    I get why he’d pick Jackson. Still it would have been nice to build up the Washington Park area. Then again I guess it could have just started another gentrification hot-spot.

    Meh, I don’t know enough to guess if this was a blessing in disguise for the neighborhoods around Washington Park. I’m curious to see how the residents react though.

  2. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 1:49 pm:

    I know someone who lives right near Jackson Park. This person is ecstatic at the news, and so am I.

  3. - Allie - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    Walking distance from the Museum of Science and Industry, which makes total sense. I bet visits to the library will be much higher at the Jackson Part site for this reason alone.

  4. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 2:05 pm:

    I used to live 300 yards from the Museum of Science and Industry. It’s a great location. Wonderful news.

  5. - weltschmerz - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 2:10 pm:

    That’s a relief. I was afraid the lack of vacant land in Chicago would force him to put it on the Lucas Museum campus in Cal.

  6. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 2:14 pm:

    Sounds like a great spot. Look forward to visiting it.

    And the Lucas Museum could not have gone here? I know a lagoon is not Lake Michigan, but did that drive that decision.

  7. - JB13 - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 2:16 pm:

    It’s where the Obama library belongs. Good choice.

  8. - uptown progressive - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 2:36 pm:

    L train used to go to Jackson Park - it could happen again

  9. - JoanP - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 2:37 pm:

    That’s a real shame. Washington Park NEEDS the library; we Jackson Park denizens don’t. The University owns a ton of vacant land just west of WP that would have been a perfect site - right next to the Green Line station. (Seriously, the public transit to that location is scads better than the transit to Jackson Park.)

    This sucks. I wonder how much of it was driven by a concern that white folks wouldn’t venture into a majority black neighborhood. I really hope that’s not the case. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it factored in.

  10. - A guy - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 2:46 pm:

    If your goal was a prettier setting, the right location won. If there was an economic improvement component, the other site would have offered greater benefits. All in all, it could have been in Oahu or NYC. To that extent, it’s a win.

  11. - Groucho - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 3:24 pm:

    Does the Friends of the Park know this yet? Here is something else they can ruin.

  12. - The Historian - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 3:30 pm:

    I’m 100% with JoanP, especially her 2nd graph, but then I’ve believed from the get-go that it belonged in *Palmer* Park, down in Roseland on the north side of 113th, across the street from someone’s former office (1985-88)

  13. - uptown progressive - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 3:37 pm:

    The University that owns the land west of Washington Park has long term plans - I suspect for research and medical expansion. That area will be redeveloped perhaps with greater positive economic impact. (And the Green line still goes to Cottage Grove - just a few blocks, a quick bus ride, from the site) People who never ride the CTA should probably not comment on that issue

  14. - Eric Zorn - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 3:41 pm:

    “Pretty good” overstates the quality of Jackson Park Golf Course, which I play several times a summer. It’s an adequate muni, in better shape now than maybe ever, but certainly nothing like the country club courses Obama’s been playing lately. Also a security nightmare were he to play it now — much of it is unfenced and in the shadow of highrises. I doubt we’ll see him out there. But Rich, if you’re ever in the area and in the mood to spoil a good walk….

  15. - Chicago_Downstater - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 4:00 pm:

    @ Grandson of Man:
    Thanks for the info (seriously no sarcasm on that). I like to know how folks in the neighborhoods feel about huge developments like this.

    Sidenote @ weltschmerz:
    Ha! Nice one!

  16. - Milton B - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 4:14 pm:

    Oh man, another disappointment for Washington Park. Would have been great if they’d brought the library here. I hope he changes his mind.

  17. - Milton B - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 4:15 pm:

    I agree with JoanP

  18. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 4:36 pm:

    I understand Washington Park’s disappointment. But having two major tourist attractions so close together in the Jackson Park area (plus the beautiful U of C campus) makes tremendous sense.

  19. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 4:40 pm:


    It should not be on park land. That is wrong

  20. - Ron - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 5:24 pm:

    Probably the right decision. Happy to see this happen.

  21. - Percival - Wednesday, Jul 27, 16 @ 9:07 pm:

    More green parkland along the lake disappears forever. It is beautiful site all right. . . . because it’s a green park! Not for long on either, I fear.

  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 28, 16 @ 8:31 am:

    @ uptown progressive -

    And people who live in uptown and probably never come to the south side clearly don’t realize that the Green Line stop is not “a few blocks” from Jackson Park. It’s a couple of MILES.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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