Communities vie for presidential library

Dec. 25, 2012 at 1:13 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will be in office for four more years but competition already under way to determine where his presidential library will be located.

The Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, where Obama cut his political teeth, the University of Hawaii, in Honolulu where he was born, the University of Chicago, where he taught for 12 years, and developers of the old U.S. Steel South Works site in Chicago are among those vying for the honor of hosting the Obama library, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Bronzeville has a 37-acre site available, that developers are considering for a possible casino or sports entertainment complex. But people who live in the historic African-American community are talking it up as a logical location for the library, the newspaper says.

"This area tells the story of Chess Records, gospel music, blues and jazz, electrified by Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters," said Harold Lucas, president of the Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council in Bronzeville. "When people come to Chicago, that's what they want to see. They want to see the birthplace of Mr. Obama's political career."

Libraries have become routine for modern-day presidents but Obama, the nation's first black president, hasn't mentioned any preferences for one in his honor, the Tribune notes.

"Every one of the libraries is different and has a different mission. For the presidents who are still alive, it's a sort of home base," said Christopher Mooney, professor of political studies at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. "These libraries have become really important for historical and political science research and sort of a centerpiece for their post-presidency."

Hawaiian lawmakers have passed a resolution calling on Obama to choose his home state, and a lobbying committee of government and civic leaders will push that agenda.

University of Chicago officials have quietly expressed interest in the library, officials at the National Archives and Records Administration, which administers 13 presidential libraries.

Developers of the 125-acre former U.S. Steel South Works want the library to anchor a proposed $4 billion lake project, Chicago Lakeside.

Another possible site mentioned is Washington Park, which borders the University of Chicago.

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