The world has waited with bated breath for President Barack Obama to make a critical announcement: where his big presidential library and charitable foundation will be located.
The answer (drumroll, please)… Chicago!
While there was some discussion that the foundation could be located in Obama’s birthplace of Honolulu or in New York, Chicago was always the frontrunner. Several leaks in earlier weeks had indicated it would be chosen. Besides being America’s third-largest city, Chicago is also Obama’s adopted home and where he made his career prior to becoming president.
“All the strands of my life came together, and I really became a man, when I moved to Chicago,” said Obama in a video announcement posted to YouTube.
Besides including a library and museum dedicated to Obama, the new location is important because it will provide extensive office space for The Obama Foundation, the president’s foundation will likely prove to be a potent vehicle for the Obama family brand once he moves out of the Oval Office. The Clinton Foundation, founded by Bill Clinton after his time in office, has surged to become one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential foundations, and in the process has contributed to making Clinton very rich (he is believed to have earned over $100 million since 2001).
The exact location of the library and the accompanying foundation headquarters hasn’t been decided yet, though two places being considered are Jackson Park and Washington Park. City officials hope the Obama library will help revitalize the area it is built in, as both parks are in neighborhoods that have struggled with crime and high poverty rates.
However, even those plans could run afoul of local law. Building on parkland is a complicated legal matter in Chicago, and a citizens group Friends of the Parks has in the past sued to prevent buildings from being erected on them. The group hasn’t yet said whether it would sue to block Obama’s library.
Regardless of the exact location, the library is being built in association with the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught law. In consolation to losing a library from Columbia University and the University of Honolulu, the Obama Foundation has said it will work to create a “presence” at both universities in the future.
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