Proposal Highlights

The University of Illinois at Chicago and the North Lawndale community propose a Barack Obama Presidential Library that is as much a repository of ideas as it is a forum for public engagement, exchange and debate. A place where democracy thrives and contributions are realized for the greater good.

Shared Ambition, Shared Destiny

In 1961, the year Barack Obama was born, a 105-acre site located at the center of the Jane Addams’ Hull-House settlement at Harrison and Halsted Streets, was made available for the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois.

  • UIC was founded on the principles of civic engagement, social justice and public service, and our mission aligns with President Obama’s vision for innovation, education and health care for all.
  • The location of campus is central to the history of Chicago and the story of progressive politics in America.
  • Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett’s proposed civic center, the heart of their 1909 Plan of Chicago, was to be located at Congress and Halsted — what is now the northeast corner of campus. Hull-House, Chicago’s first social settlement and home of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jane Addams, is located on campus just a block away from Burnham’s proposed site.
  • As one of the nation’s most diverse campuses, UIC is a microcosm of Chicago and the U.S. Among its 28,000 students, there is no ethnic majority.

Proposed sites

The university has identified three potential library sites: two in prime on-campus locations just blocks from downtown Chicago and a third site in the nearby North Lawndale community:

  • The academic site runs on the north side of Harrison Street, between Morgan and Halsted Streets, nestled between Chicago’s major roadways and set against the impressive view of the city skyline.
  • The medical site is located on two lots at the northwest and southwest corners of Taylor Street and Ashland Avenue in the Illinois Medical District, home to UIC’s health sciences colleges and the world-renowned University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.
  • The community site is a large 23-acre site in the North Lawndale area between West 5th Avenue to the north, South Kildare Avenue to the east, West Roosevelt Road to the south, and South Kostner Avenue to the west. The land is just south of the Eisenhower Expressway and the CTA Blue Line with access to the western suburbs and beyond.

The Barack Obama Presidential Library, in proximity to UIC and the city’s up-and-coming western corridor, will attract visitors from around the world and UIC offers the highest possible level of regional access and connectivity across the Chicagoland area.

Public Mission

A model for community engagement, UIC consistently works to reinvigorate surrounding neighborhoods, particularly the economically challenged, through educational outreach, public health programs and community building initiatives. The UIC-North Lawndale partnership brings together a major public university and a community organized for change to further advance the ideals of President Barack Obama. North Lawndale and UIC share a commitment to advocating for and empowering the underserved and transforming communities.

As a land-grant institution, UIC makes it possible for aspiring students, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, or socioeconomic status, to obtain a high quality education at an affordable cost. UIC is the ideal university to promote President Obama’s dream of a more open and inclusive world. Moreover, only a research university with a public mission can truly extend the President’s legacy to all who can benefit from it.

The essence of the UIC-North Lawndale proposal is best summarized by this quote from Marcus Betts of the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee in the Chicago Tribune on June 16, 2014: “This response really isn’t about an ideal site, city or even side of town, but the ideals set forth by the 44th president of the United States of America.”