Washington Park Comes Up Short In Bid For Obama Library

Washington Park Comes Up Short In Bid For Obama Library

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CHICAGO (AP) — President Barack Obama’s presidential library will be built in a park on Chicago’s South Side along the shores of Lake Michigan and a short walk from the university where Obama once taught, a person familiar with the selection process told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Barack Obama Foundation decided to build the library at Jackson Park near the University of Chicago, according to a person briefed on the selection. The library is expected to be a boon to the city’s South Side, providing jobs to communities that have long struggled with gang violence and high unemployment.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak about the decision ahead of a formal announcement.

The park was selected over nearby Washington Park, which also was proposed by the University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law as he was embarking on a political career that led him to the Illinois Senate, the U.S. Senate and ultimately the White House.

The university has said the library and presidential center are expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, bringing jobs and millions of dollars to the area.

Jackson Park was the site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, while Washington Park is a national historic site. Both parks have hundreds of acres and were designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, but Jackson Park - located between Lake Michigan and the University of Chicago - is farther away from areas plagued by gun violence than Washington Park, which is further to the west.

Michelle Obama once worked as an administrator at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and the Obamas still maintain a house near the private university’s campus. The president famously worked as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side, where his wife grew up.

The parks were chosen as finalists last year over bids by Columbia University in New York City, the University of Hawaii and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Obamas announced last month that the library would be designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, a New York architectural firm that designed the David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. The Obama Foundation said 140 architecture firms applied to design the library.

The center is expected to be completed by 2021.