Harold Washington Library Center

Harold Washington Library Center

Harold Washington Library Center
4.5
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
About
The library houses approximately two million books and is a wonderful example of Chicago's architecture.
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Downtown / The Loop
Often visitors' first stop in Chicago, The Loop is a good starting point to sample the city's energy and flavor. This central business district boasts Michelin-rated restaurants, upscale hotels, premier shopping, and enough arresting architecture to keep your camera busy for hours. You won’t find too many photo galleries of downtown Chicago without a shot of Millennium Park and Cloud Gate (“The Bean”), one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. A stunning skyline coupled with cultural attractions like the Art Institute of Chicago present a Downtown where work and play peacefully coexist.
How to get there
  • Harold Washington Library – State/Van Buren • 2 min walk
  • Harrison • 3 min walk
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles269 reviews
Excellent
160
Very good
89
Average
15
Poor
4
Terrible
1

CharlieV2011
Chicago, IL2,195 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020 • Solo
The building maybe beautiful on the outside, but inside is a different story. Yes there are books here, but this really isn’t a library. There are scores of homeless people here; people listening to music and shows on their electronic devices without headphones; and others just sitting around talking with no respect for anyone wanting silence to read or study. Most of the time, the online catalog lists inventory incorrectly. The bathrooms have people sleeping on the floor. In my opinion, I picture libraries as quiet buildings that are clean and full of resources, but this library is the opposite.
Written January 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

hrobinson1114
Nashville, TN5,809 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Solo
I visited here to see the architecture of the winter garden (ninth floor). I could only view from outside because a wedding was being set up inside.

The main branch of the New York public library may have the rose reading room and beautiful murals along the ceilings, but this library is more open, airy, and practical. And unlike NYPL, this library still has physical volumes and periodicals.

The building is 10 floors (the 10th being admin offices). There are elevators, but the primary mode of transport here is an escalator system.

This library seems to be a sort of community center. There are music rooms, media rooms, interactive sections, study areas, art exhibits and sculptures. Computer commons. Multiple sections, including science, reference, popular fiction, graphic novels, history, poetry, plays, etc.

Appear to be many staff members, librarians, and security personnel around to help.

If I lived in Chicago, I would spend a ton of time here exploring and learning!
Written August 13, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Robert L
Amherst, MA1,608 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021 • Couples
We stayed at a hotel across the street from the library. The exterior is dramatically beautiful. However, going inside, while it is quite nice, isn't worth the extra effort. The only entrance during the Covid rules is on the State Street side.
Written May 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MrsPsPicks
Butler, PA513 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022 • Couples
Ask for the Art brochure and Guided Tour brochure at the main desk, and then explore. The building itself is gorgeous, and then there is all of the art inside… and then books! Truly a terrific place to spend a few hours. Make sure to go all the way up to the Winter Garden.
Written July 21, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Trisch V
Moberly23 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2022 • Friends
Walked past this amazing building numerous times during our visit to Chicago. Finally stopped in our last day and glad we did. Even though we had minimal time, the security officer recommended taking the elevator to the 9th floor to see the winter garden. Beautiful venue and view. Hope to visit again to peruse the book shelves.
Written April 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TakenByTravel777
Kalamazoo, MI192 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
I love libraries, and this is worth a trip to see the exterior of the building with the owl cornices. There's also a train stop that will bring you right there. On the 9th floor, there's a beautiful open area with an indoor "garden" and a nice view of the street below. There are trees and a few tables to sit and study or work. The rest of the library was typical, but we went for the special features.
Written February 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mariana C
2 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2023 • Solo
I didn't have this building on my list, but I caught my attention on the street and then I looked it up. It's worth watching from the outside and also going in. The library is huge and amazing, there's free wifi and restrooms if you need them. Everyone was very kind. I wanted to visit the winter garden but it was closed for a private event, so check first!
Written September 6, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Diane K
Venice, FL4,533 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2014 • Couples
The library is absolutely gorgeous. For a special treat, go on the free one and a half hour art tour on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 1. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The docent is extremely knowledgeable of the art and the library. There are over 50 artists represented and you get to see the entire library. A wonderful afternoon. Reservations are recommended. Check their website to sign up.

If you can't make the tour, ask at the information desk for a brochure that describes the art and the location of the piece.
Written December 10, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DawnDawnDawn
Central Illinois69 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2014 • Friends
Impressive building on the outside - and even more impressive on the inside. The special exhibit on the 9th floor was a exhibit of the photographic art of Vivian Maier. GREAT display along with the Harold Washington exhibit. There were also lots of interesting displays among the different floors. The 9th floor also holds a breathtaking Winter Garden that is so inviting the I wished I had more time to stay and read for an hour or two!
Written April 7, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Knong5
Chicago24 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Check out the Children's Library upstairs for an incredible collection of picture books, middle-grades and more. Not only is the space delightful (don't miss the dollhouse filled with literary references), but the librarians are among the most helpful and pleasant in the city. The teen-only space downstairs, YOUmedia, is a marvel of old and new media, and offers a glimpse of what libraries could be in the future. Pick up a list of upcoming events to see what literary luminaries will be speaking -- they play host to some of the most exciting authors of our time. Overall, the Harold Washington Library is a dynamic cultural hub for the city of Chicago.
Written March 29, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Harold Washington Library Center - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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