The first stop on any visit to Chicago should be the Chicago Cultural Center, where the city's official Visitor Information Center is located. The remarkable landmark structure was completed in 1897 as the city's first permanent main library. Constructed to be "an enduring monument worthy of a great and public spirited city," in the words of the founding library board, the "people's palace," as the building has come to be known, is a testament to the foresight of Chicago's turn-of-the-century cultural leadership.
Today this magnificent building, recently cleaned and restored to its original splendor, is the civic venue that links the arts community and the general public. It became the nation's first free municipal cultural center in 1991 when the Chicago Public Library moved into its new home at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street.