New Chicago Library Brings Life to Old Landmark
Chicago Public Library's new West Town branch, which occupies a one-time department-store building, is up for LEED certification.
For many years, I lived in the West Town area of Chicago. Of all of the places that I have lived in Chicago over the decades, this neighborhood remains my favorite. Located a mile or so north of the downtown area and two miles west of the downtown area, the neighborhood was home to many Polish immigrants in the early 1900s.
Right before I moved away from the area three years ago, I spotted a “closed” sign on the main door of the West Town library but no additional information was given.
Fast forward to last month when I spotted an article in the Chicago Tribune. The news was good. West Town had just opened a new eco-friendly library, the newest of 54 new or recently renovated Chicago branch libraries since the current Mayor Richard Daley took office in 1989.
The West Town Library, which occupies 13,300 square feet, is especially appealing to environmentalists like me because it occupies found space—the landmark Goldblatt’s department store building.
For those living outside the Chicago area, the Goldblatt’s department store was opened in 1914 by two sons of Simon and Hannah Goldblatt, who moved with their children from Poland to Chicago in 1905. In the first 10 years of operation, annual sales grew from about $15,000 to $1.4 million as multiple stores across the Chicago area opened. The Goldblatt brothers even prospered during the Great Depression. Sadly, in 2003, the company liquidated, with the flagship building remaining unoccupied until today. For many older Chicagoans, the Goldblatt’s name remains a rich piece of their own history.
The library, which is up for LEED certification, features floors made with recycled rubber; the main lobby floor is comprised of marble from the original Goldblatt’s flagship department store.
I cannot wait to visit Chicago’s newest branch!