The Newberry Library
If you like history and you like books, the Newberry Library is the place to be. The Newberry Library has operated as an independent research library since 1887, and has since collected an extensive array of rare books, maps, manuscripts, and even music from the past six centuries. Because of their vast resources, the library frequently offers free exhibitions, speaker events, and genealogy orientations, among other popular programs.

Thanks to the generous donations of Walter L. Newberry, it was his funds that allowed the library to establish itself as a lead research and reference institution. Ever since its conception, the caretakers of the establishment have always been looking for ways to improve the library, both in structure and in its contents. Even now, the Newberry is always incorporating new ideas in order to remain accessible for each generation.

For much of this year, for example, the library has been undergoing renovations to accommodate additional displays, including the only copy in Chicago of a First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, and a first edition of Alice in Wonderland, among others. The overall goals of this renovation are to make the library more friendly and welcoming from the moment you walk in the door.

Washington Square Park
Chicago’s Washington Square Park came to being in 1842, thanks to James Fitch, Orasmua Bushnell, and Charles Butler of the American Land Company. Though the park offers no structured programming, it’s a beautiful spot tucked away in the Near North Community with trees, picket fencing, a gorgeous Victorian fountain, and stunning flower arrangements. In the summer, Washington Square Park even has pianos for anyone to play on! It’s a popular wedding ceremony venue and even registered as a historic Chicago landmark. Washington Square Park may be small, but it’s actually part of one of the best-kept secrets in all of Chicago.

As early as the 1830s when Chicago was still setting up its governing body, the parks system has played an important role. The city claimed “Urbs in horto” as its motto, which means “City in a Garden,” which is to say that parks were very near and dear to the hearts of Chicago citizens. Many now-famous architects and landscape designers have left their mark on these grounds

One particularly unique element to Washington Square Park is its nickname, now more than one hundred years old: Bughouse Square. As mansions were converted into flophouses and a more diverse population surrounded the park, it gained its new name. And, like Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park in London, Washington or “Bughouse” Square became a refuge for anyone who had something to say. Today, Washington Square still serves as beacon for free speech, and hosts debates to maintain the spirit of the tradition’s originators.

This blog is part two of a two-part series. Go back and read the first part featuring the Old Chicago Water Tower!