Completed in 1897 as Chicago’s first central public library, the Chicago Cultural Center was designed to impress and to prove that Chicago had grown into a sophisticated metropolis. The country’s top architects and craftsmen used the most sumptuous materials. Rare imported marbles, polished brass, fine hardwoods, and mosaics of Favrile glass, mother-of-pearl and coloured stone, to create an architectural showplace
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The inlaid marble staircases at the southern (Washington Street) end of the cultural centre are particularly spectacular. Perhaps moreso with the famous Tiffany dome beyond the end of the stairs
An arched portal, bronze-framed doors, and a 3-story, vaulted lobby with walls of white Carrara marble and mosaics. The staircase is also of white Carrara marble, set with medallions of green marble from Connemara, Ireland, and intricate mosaics of Favrile glass, stone, and mother of pearl. The stairway to the 5th floor was inspired by Venice’s Bridge of Sighs
In 1991, the building was established as the Chicago Cultural Center by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Becoming the nation’s first and most comprehensive free municipal cultural venue