Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Chicago Neighborhood Wants Obama Library

Bronzeville organization suggested site of Michael Reese Hospital for presidential archive

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The battle is on to choose that site for President Obama's library. Both Chicago and Hawaii are vying to be part of the president's legacy.

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Another Chicago neighborhood is seeking to be the future home of the Barack Obama presidential library.

While no official plans have been made, residents in the historically black Bronzeville neighborhood say there's 37 acres there that are a perfect fit: the vacant site of the old Michael Reese Hospital.

"We've got this space cleared already and primed for something to come there and the library would be ideal," said Leana Flowers with The Bronzeville Alliance community organization. 

The Michael Reese Hospital property was purchased by the city more than three years ago in advance of Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Ald. Will Burns (4th) said the library would be a great addition for the community but said the Reese site inside his ward is already being considered for other entities such as an entertainment complex, a museum and hotels.

Harold Lucas, the president of the Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council in the neighborhood, told the Chicago Tribune that the neighborhood is the ideal place to tell the story of the nation's first black presidentt. Bronzeville is where a number of black leaders, artists and pioneers worked or lived.

Several other Chicago locations have expressed interest in the library, including an old U.S. Steel South Works site and the University of Chicago. The president is reportedly only lukewarm to the idea of U of C archive.

Outside of Chicago, the University of Hawaii is also vying to be a part of Obama's legacy.

"We believe that setting it here really tells that compelling story about his family and about his background," Reed Dasenbrock, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Hawaii, told Hawaii NBC station KHNL.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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