WEST RIDGE — West Ridge’s highly-anticipated new public library is now open to the public.
The Northtown Branch Library, 6800 N. Western Ave., replaces the former neighborhood library on California Avenue. The library will soon be coupled with an affordable housing complex for seniors, dubbed the Northtown Apartments. The apartments are still under construction, but 44 one-bedroom senior housing units are expected to be ready later this spring.
The mixed-use building is a collaboration between the Chicago Public Library, Chicago Housing Authority and developer Evergreen Real Estate Group, and is one of three of its kind across the city.
On Tuesday morning, Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined library and housing authority officials to celebrate the library opening.
“Bringing … world-class libraries together with housing builds strong neighborhoods and provides a place for all community residents to gather, share and succeed,” Emanuel said in statement Tuesday.
Chicago Public Library spokesman Patrick Malloy said the new library aims to serve all age groups, especially teenagers who don’t traditionally access library services.
To serve younger people who crave access to cutting-edge technology, the new library has 3-D printers and design software available for use. There is also a dedicated teen area.
Malloy said the partnership between the library and the CHA made sense.
“They both serve similar missions and it’s about trying to provide equitable access for all,” he said.
“Our old location was landlocked in an area where we couldn’t expand,” said Catherine Wilson, branch manager of the new facility.
Wilson said the new location will eventually have a parking lot — something the community desperately wanted — hopefully attracting more residents.
“We are looking forward to including the [CHA residents] who will live upstairs,” she said.
Local artist Chris Silva was commissioned to create a mural in the entryway of the new library. Wilson said that Silva tried to incorporate the history of Rogers Park and West Ridge into the mural.
“There used to be a zoo at Indian Boundary and you can see that reflected in some of the animals on the mural,” Wilson said.
On March 23, the library will hold a family day celebration including live performances, crafts and games.
Check out more photos of the new library below:
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