Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chicago's Cultural Center - The People's Palace

By Nancy J. Farrier


My Daughters and Grandson
BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY: It’s my birthday today and I’m giving away not one, but TWO gifts. Check below to see the exciting giveaways. Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Inset in Library Wall
I usually blog about the Southwest since most of my stories take place there. This month I decided to do something different. In June, three of my daughters, my grandson and I went to Indiana for a family reunion. We spent the night in Chicago and wandered around downtown Chicago the next day, something I had never done.

Victor Hugo Quote
The architecture is wonderful in Chicago. The old buildings downtown are worth the trip to admire. While we were in Millennium Park, I decided it might be worthwhile to go back up the street and see if we could take a look inside the building that housed the old Chicago library. I told the kids that sometimes the inside of old buildings can be even more beautiful than the outside. Little did I know how true that statement would be.

Column Decoration Inset Glass
After the Chicago fire of 1871, the first library, also a cultural center, with a reading room containing 30,000 books, was destroyed. Not long after the devastation of the fire Chicago began to receive book donations, but had no place to house the volumes. For years, the library had only temporary places to house their collection, which grew to 120,000 books by 1891.

Civil War Room Dome
By 1893, the year of the Chicago World’s Fair, the Library Board had selected a place for the new building, Dearborn Park. Due a conflict in priorities, an unusual decision was made. The State Legislature had awarded the American Civil War veterans part of Dearborn Park for a memorial. It was decided to tax the citizens for the new building which  would house both the library and the Civil War memorial. That way the building would belong to the people of Chicago.
Civil War Memorial Architecture

The People’s Palace ended up having two different types of architecture. The north side of the building, which houses the Civil War Memorial, is inspired by Greek architecture, with military-influenced decorations. Inside there are carvings of shields, swords, helmets and flags. The designs were meant to remind the viewer of the loss that comes with war. Everything is very somber, but breathtaking at the same time.

Wall Decoration Inset Glass
The south side of the building, which housed the library, is inspired by Roman architecture. The lobby has different types of marble, white Italian Carrara marble, from the same marble used by Michelangelo for his sculpture, and green Irish Connemara marble.

Inlaid Author's Names in Arch
Throughout the hallways, staircases and rooms are decorative touches of stained glass and mosaics done by the Tiffany Glass company. Inlaid are the names of famous authors and quotes from many of them.




Tiffany Room Dome
The room we enjoyed the most is now referred to as “The Tiffany Room.” The decorations were all done by the Tiffany Glass Company and are incredible. The dome is 38 feet in diameter and made of Tiffany Favrile glass. The wall sconces and chandeliers were also made by Tiffany. The effect is dazzling, and it’s hard to imagine reading in a room where you want to take in all the surrounding beauty.


Tiffany Room Dome Center
Tiffany Room Dome Pattern










There are quotes in ten different languages around the room; Hebrew, Italian, French, German,  Greek, Chinese, Arabic, Latin, Spanish, and Egyptian hieroglyphics. The archways in the room have inlaid names of famous authors.

Tiffany Room Clock
By 1915, cultural programs were a regular feature at the library, and the building became a true landmark to Chicagoans. By the 1920’s the number of volumes and visitors began to overwhelm the space. As early as 1930, discussion began about what to do about expansion or rehousing the library.

Tiffany Room Glass Decoration
In the 1970’s the library was moved to other locations as renovations began. At one point, the building was in danger of being torn down. Due to the efforts of many people, including Mayor Richard J. Daley and his wife, Eleanor, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now protected.

Steinway Piano in Tiffany Room
Today, there are many cultural programs held in the south end of the building that once house the library. My family and I attended a free concert held in the Tiffany Room. The acoustics were beautiful making this a highlight of our trip. There were also several art exhibits throughout the building. If you are ever in Chicago, take the time to visit this incredible historic landmark.




To celebrate my birthday and my latest release, I'm holding two drawings. The first winner will
receive a copy of the book, The Immigrant Brides, which contains my novella, Blessed Land and a tote bag. The  second winner will receive a copy of The Immigrant Brides. Leave a comment to enter the drawing. Have you ever visited the Chicago Cultural Center? What 1800's buildings have you been inside and what impressed you about them?



Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest and interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:www.nancyjfarrier.com.

34 comments:

  1. Nancy, I enjoyed this trip through the Chicago Cultural Center. The Tiffany Room is beautiful. I imagine that concert was breathtaking as well.

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    1. Thank you, Pam. I only wish the pictures did it justice.

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  2. What an interesting post! I visited downtown Chicago many years ago, but I don't remember seeing this building. And Happy Birthday to you, Nancy! Today is also one of my granddaughter's birthday. She is 5 today.

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    1. Thank you, Donna. Happy Birthday to your granddaughter too.

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  3. I have not been to Chicago at all but would love to go. I am interested in anything to do with history. Thank for the chance to win. griperang at embarqmail dot com

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    1. Thank you, Angela. I hope you get the chance to go. Chicago was a wonderful place to visit.

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  4. Beautiful photos! I've never been to Chicago, though I did set a book there in 1920. Still unpublished, LOL. I did, however, live in Annapolis, MD for 6 years and attend one of the oldest colleges in the nation, so I got to bask in 18th and 19th century architecture every day. =) LOVE IT! Congrats on your novella, Nancy!

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  5. Thank you, Roseanna. Yes, I love that old architecture. They did amazing things with building in those days.

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  6. Happy Birthday to you - I hope you have a blessed day!! I love Chicago and the history there but have not been there - I do love old buildings - they always took their time in producing quality...thanks for the great post and the chance to win! truckredford(at)Gmail(Dot)COm

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    1. Hi Eliza, thank you and I am having a blessed day. You are right about the quality of old buildings. I love to look at them.

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  7. I enjoyed Victor Hugo's insight as well as the stunning stainglass dome. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. The pictures don't even do the color justice.

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  8. Nancy, this is amazing! I'm so glad they were able to save the building. There are too many that fall to pieces.

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    1. Christina, when I read that they almost destroyed the building, I gasped. I can't imagine considering tearing down a building like that.

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  9. Nancy, (This is my third try-hopefully third time's the charm!)
    I have never been to your blog site before-WOW, I am now following.
    I have never been to Chicago either (except as a pre-born infant!) but I want to go now.
    Thanks for the chance to win your book!
    Robbie (aka RobbyeFaye)

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    1. Robbye, I'm so glad you got the comments to work. I do hope you have a chance to go to Chicago.

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  10. What a fun trip, Nancy! We took the architecture tour on the boat, then toured Frank Lloyd Wright's house in Oak Park and another on by the University of Chicago. Great city!

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    1. How fun, Cathy. I wanted to do that tour, but we had limited time and a list of things to do. I'd love to go back sometime.

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  11. No, I have never been to the Chicago Cultural Center. I can't think of any 1800's buildings that I have been inside but I love reading about this time period.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Wendy. I hope some day you have the chance to go inside a beautiful building like this.

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  12. My son lives in a suburb of Chicago, so did get to do some touring. Will have to go back to the cultural center. Don't remember what bldgs. I've been to from the 1800's.

    Martha
    josieringer(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. How fun, Martha. I'm sure you'll enjoy seeing them.

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  13. I loved the Victor Hugo quote. Thank you for sharing about the library. Makes me want to go. Hope you have a great birthday!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I wish I could have put up all the quotes, but there wasn't room.

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  14. What an amazing building! Next time we visit family in the Chicago area, I will have to see about visiting it. I honeymooned in Chicago, and we visited Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry, which were both amazing, but not the Cultural Center. It really sounds like quite the place! And I have more appreciation now for historical buildings than I did when I was first married! :)
    Hope you've had a wonderful birthday, Nancy!

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    1. Thank you, Bethany. I know you will love visiting the Cultural Center.

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  15. That Tiffany room sounds beautiful! I've never been to Chicago but I think next time I visit my bff, an hours drive away from there, she and I may have to take a day trip out there! As far as being in buildings built in the 1800's the only ones I ever though about and admired for their decor and architecture are on the University of Oklahoma's campus.
    Thanks for this post and the chance to win The Immigrant Brides!
    kam110476 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Kam, I hope you do take the time to visit the Cultural Center. Thanks for commenting.

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  16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NANCY! Love that Tiffany Room Dome Center!

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    1. Thank you, Jillian. That dome is beautiful.

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  17. No, I've never been to Chicago. But after seeing your pictures, if I ever went I would DEFINATELY add the library to my must-see list! The Tiffany room was amazing... I would feel like a queen reading in there! Thanks for the pictures. tamara_wilkins@ymail.com

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Tamara. I hope you get to visit there.

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  18. I've visited many interesting building built in the 1800's in many places; New York, Texas, Missouri, Oregon and California to name a few. i love the beautiful attention to detail, the amazing windows and arches.
    Worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

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