Oh, thank heavens. Our long, national nightmare has finally come to an end.
In a move that surprised literally no one – except those of us who live here and thought that our President, warrior of the downtrodden minority communities, would rather the money go to building a much-needed trauma center on the city’s South Side rather than a vanity project of a tourist attraction – Chicago has won the right to build the Obama Presidential Library, a project of the Barack Obama Foundation, which launched yetsterday with the comforting tagline, “his Presidency was just the beginning.”
President Barack Obama’s presidential library will be located in Chicago, the Barack Obama Foundation officially announced Tuesday.
The University of Chicago beat out its competitors, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University and the University of Hawaii, which also touted their ties to Obama and vied for the opportunity to host his presidential center.
CNN reported last month that Obama notified Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois lawmakers of his decision to pick Chicago’s South Side as the anchor to his presidential legacy.
Obama’s birthplace, the city of Honolulu in Hawaii, was also a finalist to host the center, but Chicago had long been the favorite.
The announcement comes complete with a video, which I’ll link but not embed, so you won’t have to watch it if you don’t want to. You get the gist. Obama loves Chicago, it’s where he met his wife, where he launched his career, where he thinks can personally anchor the tourist industry so as to improve overall conditions in what is basically a war-torn neighborhood and so on and so on. Obviously, though Chicago has struggled with some of the worst crime problems in the nation, is struggling economically, and is likely to raise taxes (either income or property) on its citizenry in the very near future, now that we have an Obama Presidential Library, we’ll be saved by the warm feelings emanating from the chosen construction site alone.
In all seriousness, this is a sticky issue for Chicago. Although neither candidate in the mayoral runoff wanted to touch it, the Presidential library has stirred up certain hard feelings among Chicago’s community organizers, who do want a Level 1 trauma center located on the University of Chicago campus, in the heart of the city’s South Side, where gang violence and gun violence has become the norm. With the city headed into warm summer months, the violence can only get worse, and the need for an emergency room less than a 20 minute ambulance ride from the hottest zones is a real one. The city will spend millions on Obama’s library, but at what cost? I certainly can’t imagine it’ll be a bigger attraction than our museums and shopping districts, if any tourist is willing to even venture to the University of Chicago campus (although the Museum of Science and Industry located nearly on the campus is one of the city’s best). We have “Obama tours” but they’ve become infrequent. He’s interesting, sure. But interesting enough to cough up a couple million Chicago doesn’t have? Maybe not.
I suspect my opinion on the subject is unpopular among the city’s denizens. But I suppose you never know. Perhaps they’ll make it a joint effort with the George Lucas museum and we’ll get all of our national heroes in one place.