Chicago Chosen as Home of the Barack Obama Presidential Library, Location Site Still Undetermined

Deborah Bayliss | 5/14/2015, 2:53 p.m.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gathered Tuesday morning with local dignitaries at the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside for ...
L-R Barack Obama Foundation Chairman, Martin Nesbitt; Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell, (3rd Ward) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Cong. Bobby Rush (Dist.1st). Photo by Deborah Bayliss

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gathered Tuesday morning with local dignitaries at the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside for the official announcement that Chicago was chosen as the home of the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum—an announcement somewhat eclipsed by President Obama’s video announcement earlier this morning.

In his video statement, President Obama said, “With a library and a foundation on the south side of Chicago, not only will we be able to encourage and affect change locally, but what we can also attract the world to Chicago. All the strands of my life came together and I really became a man when I moved to Chicago. 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.”

The Barack Obama Foundation and The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will work together in developing the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum as part of a larger Obama Presidential Center. The Obama Foundation will raise all of the funds needed for construction of the project; neither federal funds nor University of Chicago (U of C) funds, who officially submitted the bid for the library, will be used in the construction of the facilities.

Once construction is completed, NARA , will operate the Obama Library along with 13 other Presidential Libraries. The Foundation will be responsible for funding and operating the rest of the Center.

Mayor Emanuel remarked saying, “This is an historic day and an incredible honor. Martin (Martin Nesbitt is the chairman of the Barack Obama Foundation) and I started on this with black hair,” the mayor said laughingly calling the Library a cultural jewel for the city of Chicago. “This day was a long time coming and the worst kept secret in the city of Chicago. The Obama Presidential Library is coming home to Chicago. When we break ground on the library, it will truly be a groundbreaking moment and a once in a lifetime opportunity that will bring tremendous cultural, economic, and educational benefits to the south side and the entire City of Chicago for generations to come. Over the past months, the City has come together to bring the library to its rightful place in Chicago. I want to thank President Obama and the First Lady, who made the decision to bring the library home to Chicago but this couldn’t have been done without the collaborative efforts of the U of C, aldermen, community members, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Plan Commission, (Ill.) Senate President, John Cullerton and (Ill.) House Speaker Mike Madigan. The reason the library is coming to Chicago is because we came together as a city.”

Though Chicago is confirmed as home of the Library, it still remains to be seen as to whether it will be built in Washington Park or Jackson Park.

The Chicago Citizen Newspaper asked Barack Obama Foundation Chairman, Marty Nesbitt, when the announcement would come. “There’s still work to be done in making that decision…Both are great sites. I’m guessing it will be about six to nine months.”