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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

West Ridge’s Bright And Bold New Library Now Open, With Attached Affordable Housing For Seniors Coming Soon

PHOTOS: The mixed-use building is a collaboration between the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Housing Authority.

A mural by Chicago artist Chris Silva greets patrons in the entryway of the library.
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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.

Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
The new Northtown library branch at 6800 N. Western Ave.

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.

Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
The library’s new teen area hopes to attract younger patrons.

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.

There are two other library branches co-located with CHA developments that opened recently — the Independence Branch Library in Irving Park and the Little Italy Branch Library in Little Italy.

“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.

Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
The new library has lots of open space and natural lighting.

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.

Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
A mural by Chicago artist Chris Silva greets patrons in the entryway of the library.

“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:

Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
View from front of the library upon entry.
Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
Discovery Packs hang in the corner of the library to get children interested in STEM.
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View from the rear of the library.
Credit: Jonathan Ballew/Block Club Chicago
New patrons enjoy the open space in the new West Ridge library.
Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
A children’s area encourages play for all ages.
Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
A young child enjoys the new children’s area.
Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
Librarians help new patrons.
Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
The unfinished courtyard will soon be finished and host an open air atrium for patrons during warmer months.
Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
View from Pratt Blvd.
Credit: JONATHAN BALLEW/BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO
View from Western Ave.

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