President Barack Obama’s Presidential Library will be built in Chicago’s Jackson Park, which starts at the Museum of Science and Industry and runs south along the lakefront.
The new library is expected to bring in thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to the neighborhood every year— welcome news for Reverend Leon Finney, president of the Woodlawn Community Redevelopment Corporation.
Finney has a been a strong advocate for this location over the alternative Washington Park. We spoke to him about what the library could mean for the surrounding community.
On his reaction to the news
To put it mildly, if I were younger I would be doing cartwheels down Stony Island (Avenue) and Jackson Park. This is a wonderful occasion, an outstanding achievement, I think, on behalf of the Obama family as well as the community that wanted this particular library building in Chicago. My favorite was always Jackson Park.
On why Jackson Park is a better choice than Washington Park
The primary purpose for the Obama library was culture and education, and as a secondary benefit it would stimulate tourist traffic, and be available to people who would not otherwise come to the city of Chicago at that location. More tourists are likely to go to a library on the lakefront, right next door to the Museum of Science of Industry, than are likely to go to Washington Park on King Drive at 55th Street.
On keeping construction contracts local
I believe that if the data [is correct] we’ll be looking at 2,500 permanent jobs. That’s a lot of jobs! And I think that we’ll be there at the door making sure that we work with the contractors and work with those who [make] the contracts to make sure that jobs are available to the local, indigenous population here in Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park.