Young Men’s Association Library, Metropolitan Hall, Library Hall; Eastman’s National Business College
Life Span: 1855-1871
Location: NW corner of Randolph and LaSalle streets
Chicago Illustrated, May, 1866
This view is taken from a point south of the Court House, taking in the north half of the block on LaSalle between Washington and Randolph streets, and so much of the block north as exhibits the building for many years known as the Metropolitan Hall, now occupied by Eastman’s National Business College.
Chicago Evening Post, July 18, 1867
On the first of May the lease which the Young Men’s Association held of its rooms in Portland Block expired. The Association needed larger and more convenient rooms for its library, and especially had it needed a hall, which could be used for lectures. During the last lecture season there was no audience room in the city large enough for its use except the Opera House, and for the use of that the Association was obliged to pay $200 per night—a very large proportion of its receipts. The consequence was that it has been necessary to engage lecturers who would draw. A very large audience was necessary to pay expenses, and some of the most desirable men in the lecture field were not engaged simply because it was at least questionable whether their lectures would pay expenses.
So when the lease of the old rooms expired, a more eligible locality was sought. It was found in the third story of the Metropolitan block, which until that time had been occupied by Eastman’s Commercial School. The whole of the floor was leased to the Association for three years, at an annual rental of $4,000. The space thus rented comprises an area of about 100 by 200 feet, on the northwest corner of La Salle and Randolph streets. It includes the well known hall, formerly known as Metropolitan, now as Library Hall, which for many years was the leading public hall for the city, and, indeed, since the closing of Bryan’s and Smith and Nixon’s halls, is now.
It is very large and can seat about 1,500 persons. Moreover, it is an unusually comfortable place, being very lofty and having windows on three sides, which furnish the means of perfect ventilation. The other rooms are to the rear of this hall, and have been altered, rearranged and repaired for the use of the Association. They consist of a long room with a series of alcoves extending along the La Salle street side, in which the books are kept and where tables are provided for the readers, and another room about eighty feet i length, along the north end of the building, in which are kept the files of newspapers, arranged along the walls and on a double table down the center of the room. All these rooms are well lighted by day, and by gas at night. Besides, there is a separate reading room exclusively for ladies, and an office for the Librarian.
All these rooms are not only convenient, but are neatly and tastefully finished and furnished. It has been the aim of the managers to make it an attractive place, one which young men will find it a pleasure to visit.
And it is a nice place to visit. In may respects it is better than the old place. Not only are the books more conveniently arranged and the rooms higher, but the alcoves furnish quiet nooks and corners where we may read and study undisturbed—almost out of sight, if not quite out of hearing of his neighbors.
It is not, at least it should not be, necessary to recommend this institution at this day. No one who reads at all, can afford to neglect its privileges. The cost of two small books will pay the tax which will enable him to read what he will of 12,000 volumes, to which most of the new American publications and many new English books are added as they appear. It also gives him access to a large number of American and English literary and scientific periodicals, and to newspapers from both sides of the ocean, many of which cannot be obtained elsewhere in the city at any price. The rooms are open notb only through the day but in the evening, and they form an eligible study to those who want not books only, but a place to read them. It is in truth at once a university and a place of amusement, furnishing science, literature and art for study, and poetry and romance for recreation.
Not only is the new building convenient, but it is profitable. Already the hall is the most popular place in the city for large public meetings. Two religious societies have rented it for use Sunday mornings, afternoons and evenings; numerous fairs, festicals and concerts have already been held there, and with the increasing business of the fall and winter, it is probable that the income from the hall will pay the rent of the hall and library rooms. This will so decrease the expenses of lectures that more attention can be paid to the selection of lecturers. It is intended to secure the services of those who will be valuable as well as popular.
There are taken by the Association and at all times accessible to its members, 31 daily and 21 weekly newspapers, besides the following periodicals:
- Weekly Periodicals.—Litell’s Livng Age, Once a Week, Economist, Public Ppinion, London Commercial and Financial Chronicle, Prairie Farmer, Punch, Saturday Review, Athenaeum, Scientific American, Examiner, The Nation, The Spectator, The Round Table, The Engineer, Illustrated London News, Army and Navy Journal, Harper’s Weekly.
Fortnightly Periodicals.—Fortnightly Review, Revue des Deux Mondes.
Monthlies.—Atlantic, Harper’s Riverside, Galaxy, Belgravia, Dublin Magazine, Macmillan’s Magazine, St. James’, Temple Bar, Photographic, Chambers’ Journal, Good Words, All the Year Round, Intellectual Observer, Silliman’s Journal, People’s, American Naturalist, American Horticulturist, The Occident, American Notes and Queries, English Notes and Queries, Our Young Folks, Frazer’s Magazine, Nature and Art, Art Journal, Sunday Magazine, The Builder, Blackwood, Good Words.
Quarterlies.—North American Review, National Quarterly, Westminster Review, North British, London Quarterly, Edinburgh Review.
The new rooms will be formally opened this evening, and there will be quite a celebration in honor of the event. It is hoped that there will be a large gathering not only of members of the Association, but of all who ought to be members; that is, of all ladies and gentlemen who know how to read. On this occasion the rooms of the Academy of Sciences, which are just above the library rooms, will be opened and its interesting museum will be exhibited. It is intended to make the gathering somewhat of a social nature, and a pleasant time may be anticipated. Some of our best citizens and best speakers will be present, and short speeches are expected from Mayor Rice, Judge Arrington, Robert Collyer, Emory A. Storrs, V. B. Denslow, Henry Greenebaum, Charles Randolph and others. The meeting will assemble in Library Hall, and all life members and ex officers are particularly requested to be present and take seats on the stage.
Books may be drawn from the library next Monday and thereafter.
Chicago Handbook, A Complete Guide for Strangers and Tourists, 1869
THE CHICAGO LIBRARY ASSOCIATION,
Formerly the Young Men’s Library, is in the hall on the corner of Randolph and LaSalle streets, generally known as Metropolitan Hall. The association derives its income from the annual fees of membership and proceeds of lectures. A movement is now progressing to accumulate a building fund for the erection of a suitable edifice which shall supply the present and future needs of the Association. In the rooms of the library may be found the latest files of all home and foreign newspapers and periodicals of merit.
Looking NW from the Courthouse Dome
Looking NW from the Courthouse Dome
NW corner of Randolph and LaSalle streets
Young Men’s Association Library
NW corner of Randolph and LaSalle streets
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map