That’s about all the enthusiasm I can muster for the word that the long-anticipated Barack Obama presidential library and museum will, in fact, wind up being located in Chicago.
WORD CAME OUT Thursday in late afternoon. It seems that both WBBM-TV and WMAQ-TV (channels 2 and 5, for those of you who are call-letter illiterate) are trying to take credit for breaking the story that everybody else picked up on in the early evening hours, and which both the Washington Post and New York Times had in their Friday editions.
The proposal backed by the University of Chicago, where Obama once served as an instructor in the law school, is the one that the Obama Foundation will choose to be the site of his legacy museum where the National Archives also will store the official documents related to the Obama presidency.
A hard-nosed news-oriented person like myself should have been eager to report this Thursday night with an “Extra!” edition to try to indicate that I wasn’t lagging too far behind on the “News.”
Yet with all the speculation that has been reported in recent months with regards to the library, as to whether the University of Illinois at Chicago could beat out the U of C, or whether Columbia University would beat out both of them, I have become tired of the ordeal. Word could wait until today.
I’LL GET EXCITED about this project when I actually see brick and mortar being erected for the facility. As for those of you out there who have been saying a presidential library is boring because the same information could be more easily disseminated via the Internet, all I have to say is, “Pttbt.”
With my rosy, raspberry tongue pointed straight out, and bits of spit emanating from my lips!
The official announcement is to be made some time this month. I have heard the date of May 11 tossed about. The only mystery is whether the proposed Jackson Park location will beat out the Washington Park site that some people seem to think is the front runner.
In other words, will it be east, or west, of the University of Chicago campus and the famed Midway Plaissance?
PERSONALLY, I LIKE the thought of the site closer to Lake Michigan – which actually is why I preferred two other sites that once were talked about. The one that would have included a presidential library as part of a community development on the site of the former U.S. Steel Southworks plant, and the one that would have converted the site of the one-time South Shore Country Club.
The Southworks site, which I literally have stood upon a couple of times, would have provided a lakefront location with a wonderful view to the north of the downtown Chicago skyline. Instead, the area is going to get the Steelworkers Park, meant to allow people to romp around for leisure on the former steel mill site.
While I get amusement at the thought of the one-time exclusionary country club (no blacks or Jews, and my father only got inside because he worked there as a busboy when he was a teenager) becoming the site of the first African-American president’s library and museum.
I’m sure some souls will turn over in their graves, while their grandchildren are the ones who are going about complaining these days that the Obama presidency isn’t worthy of the recognition that a library and museum would give it.
ALTHOUGH I FIND it interesting that Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to sign into law the measures approved recently by the General Assembly that are meant to undermine any potential legal challenges to an Obama library/museum being placed on one-time Chicago Park District property.
I’m sure he could score political points if he were to veto the measures, although even Rauner doesn’t seem to be that ideologically motivated.
So this is an issue that hopefully can become interesting when work begins to actually build a facility – which could become one of the tourist attractions that future generations of “True Chicagoans” will feel the need to visit once. At the very least, it will ensure that the Obamas return to Chicago from their apparent future home in New York on the day of the opening festivities.
When that happens, perhaps I’ll get a little more enthused. Until then, “Meh.”