The project has been marred by legal challenges and a federal review. Barack Obama’s presidential papers won’t actually be kept there—they’ll be digitized, another point of contention.
More than four years after leaving office, Barack Obama broke ground on Tuesday at his Presidential Center on Chicago’s south side, a legacy project mired by a protracted discord over the use of a public park and its potential impact on a public park. Has been. Historically neglected part of the city.
in one hour-long ceremony Reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Obama and Michelle Obama, former First Lady, removed the mess with memorial shovels at a 19-acre site in Jackson Park near the shores of Lake Michigan.
Joining for groundbreaking with the Obamas, which was streamed online, were Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“This day has been a long time coming,” said Mr. Obama. “The pandemic had other plans, so we’re keeping it short for now.”
Mr Obama, 60, a Democrat who stepped down in January 2017, said the presidential center would become a catalyst for job growth and economic growth in the place where he came of age as a politician, husband and father. Were. He added that the project will transform Chicago’s South Side into a destination not only for learning about his presidency, but also for future leaders.
“Chicago is where I found the purpose I was looking for,” said Mr. Obama, who became the first black person to be elected to the US presidency in 2008.
In a departure from similar projects that recognized former presidents, the center would not actually be a presidential library. It wouldn’t have Mr. Obama’s presidential papers, which would digital – a decision that has been made Sad Point for Some Presidential Observers. Mr. Obama envisioned that the center would host concerts, cultural events, lectures, trainings and summits.
“We want this center to be more than a static museum or a source of archival research,” Obama said. “It won’t be just a collection of campaign memorabilia or Michelle’s ball gowns, although I know everyone will come to see them. It won’t just be an exercise in nostalgia or looking back. We want to look ahead.”
Construction of the Presidential Center, whose estimated price tag exceeds initial estimates of $500 million $830 million, is expected to take four years.
The 235-foot “Museum Tower” will be the focal point of the center. Words taken from Mr. Obama’s 2015 speech to mark the 50th anniversary of civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Ala. would wrap around the exterior of the tower to form a sunscreen. the center will include a Chicago Public Library branch, a great lawn, a children’s play area, a fruit and vegetable garden and a teaching kitchen.
President Biden, who served as Mr Obama’s vice president for eight years, did not attend the ceremony but offered his support in a pre-recorded message.
“It’s not just breaking ground on a new building,” Biden said. “It’s cracking down on the idea of America as a place of possibilities.”
Obama’s selection of Chicago as the Presidential Center reaffirms the city’s fundamental role in his political and personal life.
Obama taught law at the University of Chicago for 12 years before being elected to the US Senate in 2004. It was at a Chicago law firm that he met his wife in 1989: she was appointed to serve as his mentor. And the city where the future first couple started their family.
Obama, 57, said that even though she had dined with heads of state, kings and queens, she had not forgotten her roots, other than shaking hands with the two popes.
“One of my greatest honors has been to be a South Side daughter, a proud Chicagoan,” said Mrs. Obama. “I still lead with that descriptor. I wear it boldly and proudly like a crown.”
But for all the good will that Obama deposited in Chicago, where Mr. Obama celebrated his victory in the 2008 presidential election In front of an estimated 240,000 people in Grant Park, they could not avoid the long delay on the inauguration of the Presidential Centre.
“It took many twists and turns,” Ms Lightfoot said of the project.
The choice of Jackson Park rankled both conservation groups and some residents, who questioned whether the project would displace black residents in the neighborhood as gentrification took hold.
An advocacy group unsuccessfully sued the park’s use, which is Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of the designation, the project was the subject of a four-year review by the federal government that was not resolved until earlier this year.
In August, the US Supreme Court rejected a request by opponents of the project to halt construction, The Chicago Tribune reported. Work began that same month, more than five years after Obama chose the center’s location.
The wait for Mr. Obama to open his Presidential Center will be much longer than his predecessors experienced.
Former President George W. Bush dedicated his presidential library in Dallas in April 2013, four years after leaving office, while former president bill clinton In November 2004, he opened his presidential library and museum in Little Rock, Ark., less than four years after his presidency ended.
The Governor of Illinois Mr. Pritzker said that Obama Presidential Center Chicago was a source of great pride.
“Which means,” he said, “we are proudly now known as the land of Lincoln and Obama.”