The Newberry Library is a bibliophile's dream. Established in 1887 thanks to a bequest by Chicago merchant and financier Walter Loomis Newberry, the noncirculating research library contains many rare books and manuscripts (such as Shakespeare's first folio and Jefferson's copy of The Federalist Papers), housed in a stately five-story granite building. The library is also a major destination for genealogists digging at their roots, with holdings that are free to the public (over the age of 16 with a photo ID). The collections include more than 1.5 million volumes and 75,000 maps, many of which are on display during an ongoing series of public exhibitions. For an overview, take a free 1-hour tour Thursday at 3pm or Saturday at 10:30am. The Newberry operates a fine bookstore and also sponsors a series of concerts (including those by its resident early-music ensemble, the Newberry Consort), lectures, and children's story hours throughout the year. One popular annual event is the Bughouse Square debates. Held across the street in Washington Square Park in late July, the debates re-create the fiery soapbox orations of the left-wing agitators in the 1930s and 1940s. Allow a half-hour.
- © Frommer's 2013