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Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama began construction on the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side on Tuesday, more than five years after the controversial project was first announced.

important facts

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Obamas chosen locationJackson Park, partly because of its sentimental value, the former president said Tuesday, describing Chicago as “where almost everything is precious to me.”

The Obama Presidential Center will be built within several miles of where Obama began his political career as a community organizer, the neighborhood Michelle grew up in, the reception hall where the two were married and the hospital where their daughters Malia and Sasha were born. The former president said on Tuesday.

Obama also said he wanted to build the Presidential Library in the area because of its proximity to a “vibrant neighborhood … where we believe we can make a difference”.

The former president expressed his hope that the center would be more than a collection and would help “give back” to the South Side and, affluent home“For the culture of the city.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended the ceremony.

main background

News of Obama’s presidential library moving to Chicago was first announced 2015After Honolulu, Obama’s birthplace, Hawaii was also considered, although Chicago was Obama’s first choice. NS $830 million center proved controversial. In 2018, a group of environmentalists sued to block construction at Jackson Park, arguing that public land should not be used for a private project, a lawsuit that was later dismissed by a federal judge. had gone. Just last month, second bid stop the groundbreaking of the project was rejected by a judge. Local people have also expressed concern about the possible Gentrification of surrounding areas as a result of the project. The center was supposed to open this year, but was delayed due to litigation and the coronavirus pandemic. The campus will include a museum, the first fully digitized presidential library, a new Chicago Public Library branch and green space.