City dedicates library to former Mayor Daley

Clout Street

Chicago officials on Thursday continued the time-honored tradition of imprinting the city’s public buildings with the names of former leaders, dedicating the Richard M. Daley public library in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood.

It could be the first of several such naming ceremonies for Daley, who stepped down this spring after 22 years in office. The name of his father, Richard J. Daley, graces a Loop building that’s home to part of the Cook County court system, a campus of the City Colleges of Chicago and an elementary school in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The new library near the corner of Kedzie and Chicago avenues is the first public building dedicated to Daley, but not the first structure. DePaul University got a jump on things by naming a building after Daley and his wife, Maggie, while he was still in office.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Daley at the library ceremony. It was the first time the two have appeared together publicly since Emanuel took over in May, though Emanuel told reporters Thursday that he has spoken privately with Daley several times and the two have had dinner.

Each man took the opportunity to praise the other during brief remarks.

Emanuel called introducing Daley “the greatest of honors that I have ever had,” and referred to his predecessor as “our mayor.”

Daley thanked Emanuel for his commitment to public service.

Daley's remarks were right out of his mayoral playbook, touching on the importance of libraries as centers of communities and calling on parents to be involved with their children's education.

Afterward, Daley spent more than 20 minutes posing with people in front of a painting in the library's foyer depicting him reading from Daniel Burnham's plan for Chicago.

He said he misses driving around the city meeting with people, and doesn't feel as though a weight has been lifted from his shoulders since leaving office.

Maggie Daley, who has cancer, is “feeling much better, thank you, she's feeling really good,” he said.

In recent weeks, Emanuel has talked about the financial problems he inherited as mayor, but Daley said he doesn't take it personally when people place the city's problems at his feet. “No, people want to blame everyone, so it's all part of it,” he said.

Rather than climbing into a black sedan as he did while mayor, Daley left the library that bears his name in the passenger seat of a brown minivan. “This is alright. I love vans,” he said.

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