US & Canada

Obama chooses adopted hometown Chicago for library

President Obama speaks at a recent event. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Obama's foundation hopes the library will help Chicago's struggling South Side neighbourhood

President Obama's foundation has announced his presidential library will be built in Chicago in the city's struggling South Side neighbourhood.

"All the strands of my life came together and I really became a man when I moved to Chicago," Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama worked there as a community organizer and also represented the area as an state senator.

The plan for the $600 million project beat out a rival proposal from Hawaii, the president's birthplace.

The library will store his papers and help frame his legacy as president.

"The South Side is where Obama found his voice, walked the streets, knocked on doors and believed in the audacity of hope ... His journey began on the South Side and will come home," Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said during a news conference.

The centre will open by 2020 or 2021, and the Obama foundation will know the exact site within the next six to nine months.

Long the centre of Chicago's black community, the South Side has struggled with poverty and high crime rates.

The president's foundation wants the library to give the South Side an economic boost. The University of Chicago will be a major contributor to the Centre, which will be entirely funded by the Obama Foundation.

Marty Nesbitt, chairman of the foundation, said during Tuesday's news conference the centre will include the library, a museum, and office/activity space for the foundation.

Nearby the future library is the University of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology and multiple museums.

University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer said the Obama library will be the first 'truly urban' presidential library and will be readily accessible by public transportation.

"Not only will we be able to encourage and affect change locally, but what we can also do is to attract the world to Chicago," said Mr Obama in a video released on Tuesday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Obama's two children were born in Chicago.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Museum of Science and Industry on Chicago's South Side.

The video accompanying the announcement profiled residents of the South Side who are working to build the community up.

One University of Chicago study from 2014 found that the annual economic impact of the Centre could be $220 million per year, mostly due to an influx of new visitors to the city.

First lady Michelle Obama was raised in the South Side and the couple first met in the neighbourhood.

"I'm thrilled to be able to put this resource in the heart of the neighbourhood that means the world to me," Mrs Obama said in the video. "Every value, every memory, every important relationship to me exists in Chicago. I consider myself a South Sider."

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