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winter garden on the top floor. On the second floor is another treasure: the vast
Thomas Hughes Children's Library, housing more than 100,000 volumes.
The library offers an interesting array of events and art exhibitions worth check-
ing out, and is an excellent resting spot for families touring the Loop. A 385-seat
auditorium is the setting for a unique mix of dance and music performances,
author talks, and children's programs, including readings by librarians, puppet
shows, and visits from book characters. (For example, kids might meet “Angelina
Ballerina” and make crowns with her.) The library also has a cafe adjacent to the
ninth-floor winter garden, and a coffeehouse and used-book store on the ground
floor. Allow 1 hour.
400 S. State St. & 312/747-4300. Free admission. Mon-Thurs 9am-7pm; Fri-Sat
9am-5pm; Sun 1-5pm. Closed holidays. Subway/El: Red Line to Jackson/State; Brown Line to Van Buren/
Library. Bus: 2, 6, 11, 29, 36, 62, 145, 146, 147, or 151.
City Gallery All ages. Along with the pumping station across the street, the
Chicago Water Tower is one of only a handful of buildings to survive the Great
Chicago Fire of 1871. It has long been a revered symbol of the city's resilience
and fortitude, although today—more than 130 years after it first rose to a once-
mighty height of 154 feet—the Water Tower is dwarfed by the high-rise shop-
ping centers and hotels of North Michigan Avenue. The Gothic-style limestone
building now has been reinvented as an art gallery. While this may be a welcome
and inventive use of the structure, it's actually an idea that first cropped up in
1948 but was never acted upon. The spiffed-up interior is intimate and sunny,
and it's a refreshing pit stop of culture on your way to the Water Tower shop-
ping center or pumping-station tourist information center across the street.
Exhibits have included works by Chicago-based photographer Victor Skrebne-
ski. Allow a half-hour.
806 N. Michigan Ave. (between Chicago Ave. and Pearson St.). & 312/742-0808. Free admission. Mon-Sat
10am-6:30pm; Sun 10am-5pm. Bus: 3, 145, 146, 147, or 151.
DuSable Museum of African-American History Ages 5 & up. The
DuSable Museum is a repository of the history, art, and artifacts pertaining to
the African-American experience and culture. Named for Chicago's first perma-
nent settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a French-Canadian of Haitian descent,
it is admirable not so much for its collections and exhibits as for the inspiring
story behind its existence. Founded in 1961 with a $10 charter and minimal
capital, the museum began in the home of Dr. Margaret Burroughs, an art
teacher at the city's Du Sable High School. In 1973, as a result of a community-
based campaign, the museum took up residence in its present building (a former
parks administration facility and police lockup) on the eastern edge of Wash-
ington Park. With no major endowment to speak of, the DuSable Museum has
managed to accumulate a respectable collection of more than 13,000 artifacts,
books, photographs, art objects, and memorabilia. Its collection of paintings,
drawings, and sculpture by African-American and African artists is excellent.
In 1993 the DuSable Museum added a 25,000-square-foot wing named in
honor of the city's first and only African-American mayor, Harold Washington.
The permanent exhibit on Washington contains memorabilia and personal
effects, and surveys important episodes in his political career. More recent is a
permanent exhibit called Blacks in Aviation, which celebrates the achievements
of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen and features such items as the flight jacket of
Major Robert H. Lawrence, the nation's first African-American astronaut.
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