Chicago, Hawaii or New York? Where President Barack Obama decides to house his presidential library is a question that’s expected to be answered by the beginning of next year, but his ties to the three places make the decision more difficult than that for previous presidents.
Donors from Chicago and New York have already begun fundraising for Obama’s presidential library, with $850,000 to $1.75 million pledged so far. Proposals include a library with a museum, education center, gift center and restaurant, the Seattle Times reported. The Barack Obama Foundation is expected to have a short list of sites by the end of the summer, with Obama and first lady Michelle Obama making a decision in early 2015.
“It has been said that to understand where you are going, you must understand where you are from,” Chicago State University President Wayne Watson told the paper. “President Barack Obama is from many places. He was born in Hawaii and lived in diverse locations throughout his childhood. He was educated on the East Coast. Yet without a doubt, Barack Obama the leader was born into political action on the Far South Side of Chicago.”
Five of the seven major bidders for the Obama presidential library are in Chicago, a list compiled by the Chicago Sun-Times shows. Among the sites in the Second City are: the former U.S. Steel South Works site, where Obama once worked as a community organizer; the University of Chicago, where Obama taught at the law school; the University of Illinois at Chicago; Chicago State University, near Michelle Obama’s neighborhood home, and the former Michael Reese Hospital site in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.
Other contenders for the Obama library are Columbia University in New York City where Obama received his undergraduate degree and the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, which is pushing an effort for the library on the grounds previous presidential libraries were built in a president’s home state.
Wherever the Obama’s presidential library is built, the building is estimated to bring in millions of dollars. Studies conducted in Chicago and Honolulu found the site could attract 800,000 visitors annually and create 2,000 permanent jobs, the Seattle Times said.
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