Harold Washington Library (400 S. State), named for Mayor Harold Washington, is the Chicago Public Library’s central library. Designed by Beeby and Babka, it opened on October 7, 1991 and its roof features owls by Raymond Kaskey, as well as seed pods, foliage, and ears of corn. The building is immediately accessible by the Brown, Orange, Pink, and Purple lines, and houses the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library, a sculpture by Polish artist Jerzy Kenar, piano rental rooms, a winter garden, a center for the disabled, and computers, as well as free wifi and all the public collections.
The former central library was what is now the Chicago Cultural Center. After that conversion in 1977, a long-term temporary central library was opened at 425 N. Michigan Avenue, and most of the central collection was placed into storage.