ast year, I featured the dazzling Tiffany mosaic-encrusted and stained glass-domed Cultural Center for my The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago. The building was originally the Central Library of the Chicago Public Library, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. Designed by the architects behind the nearby Art Institute of Chicago, it was a big step up from the CPL’s first home in a decommissioned water tank.

Over the more than a century since that Central Library opened in 1897, plenty of other remarkable libraries have been constructed in the Chicago area, their engaging architecture reflecting the wonder of the books and other media contained within. The newest, the Obama Presidential Center, is currently – controversially – rising in Jackson Park and scheduled to open in 2025.

Here’s a whirlwind tour from across the Chicago area.


Photo Credit: Mike Schwartz