I never thought I would make my way back to the Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the main branch of the Chicago Public Library this year. But on Saturday, August 9, 2014, I was there to attend the wedding reception of my cousin's daughter. What a beautiful venue for a wedding reception.
The unfortunate result is that I couldn't get down on "all fours" to capture the entire dome within the picture frame.
But what irked me the most was that the photographer that was hired by the wedding party had the nerve to say to me when I arrived with my Nikon in tow. He stated that I better not get in his way when it comes to taking pictures. He went on to show where he had both video and 35mm cameras set up and he didn't want to see me standing in front of those cameras to get the shot I wanted. I went on to tell him that I am not just an iPhone type of person who takes selfies, but am very professional and respectful of others. He then responded by saying that professional photographers tend to upset him the most.
Oh how I wanted to silence his negativism.
Pictured here is the Tiffany dome inside the Preston Bradley Hall where everyone danced the night away.
Approximately 38 feet in diameter, the Tiffany dome inside the Chicago Cultural Center spans more than 1,000 square feet. It contains approximately 30,000 pieces of glass in 243 sections within an ornate cast iron frame. The body of the dome has a “fish scale” pattern. The center, called the oculus, shows the signs of the zodiac. The interior stained glass dome originally was protected by an exterior translucent glass dome, which allowed much-needed natural light into what was then the Chicago library’s general delivery room.
During this project, the concrete and copper exterior dome that had been added during the 1930s was removed, once again allowing natural light to shine through the glass. This was added, I was told, to protect the dome from enemy attack as the country entered World War I. Now, natural light pours into the room, changing the subtle colors of the restored glass minute-by-minute, while all of the room’s decorative elements glow and harmonize. In addition to cleaning and repairing the art glass, the ornate cast iron framework of the dome was given a new application of its original finish. Delicate rosette lighting around the cornice of the dome also was refurbished.
The cost of restoring the Tiffany dome was approximately $2,200,000.00. What was interesting to note was the original cost of the building’s design and construction, including the Tiffany dome, was less than the cost of restoration. In early 1900’s dollars, it cost $2,000,000.00, with the Tiffany dome coming in at a cost of $120,000.00.
It was also amazing by how much the colors would change in the Tiffany dome as the earth continued to orbit the ever-setting sun. After touring the entire building, I am still amazed at the construction of the building, the marble decor and the mosaic friezes, all at a minimal cost of $2,000,000.00.
Along the bottom of the dome’s entire perimeter is a phrase by Joseph Addison (1672-1719) written in Roman lettering: “Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.” Remember that the building’s original function was a library when it was first built, not as a cultural center.
Photo captured August 9, 2014.
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