John F. Kennedy Library

John F. Kennedy Library

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The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library
Presidential library
In the United States, the Presidential library system is a nationwide network of 13 libraries administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration...

 and museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

 of the 35th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

. It is located on Columbia Point
Columbia Point (Boston)
Columbia Point, later referred to as Harbor Point, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts sits on a peninsula jutting out from the mainland of eastern Dorchester into the bay.-History:...

 in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, next to the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston, also known as UMass Boston, is an urban public research university and the second largest campus in the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. The university is located on on Harbor Point in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, United States...

 and the Massachusetts Archives
Massachusetts Archives
The Massachusetts Archives is the state archive of Massachusetts. It "serves the Commonwealth and its citizens by preserving and making accessible the records documenting government action and by assisting government agencies in managing their permanent records." The archives currently occupies...

. It was designed by the architect I. M. Pei
I. M. Pei
Ieoh Ming Pei , commonly known as I. M. Pei, is a Chinese American architect, often called a master of modern architecture. Born in Canton, China and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew inspiration at an early age from the gardens at Suzhou...

. The building is the official repository for original papers and correspondence of the Kennedy Administration, as well as special bodies of published and unpublished materials, such as books and papers by and about Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

. The library and museum were dedicated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 and members of the Kennedy family
Kennedy family
In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

. It can be reached from nearby Interstate 93
Interstate 93
Interstate 93 is an Interstate Highway in the New England section of the United States. Its southern terminus is in Canton, Massachusetts, in the Boston metropolitan area, at Interstate 95; its northern terminus is near St. Johnsbury, Vermont, at Interstate 91...

 or via shuttle bus
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 from the JFK/UMass
JFK/UMass (MBTA station)
JFK/UMass Station is located at the intersection of Columbia Road and Morrissey Boulevard, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.Its facilities include:*a platform on the Boston subway's Red Line for the Ashmont Branch...

 stop on the Boston subway's Red line
Red Line (MBTA)
The Red Line is a rapid transit line operated by the MBTA running roughly north-south through Boston, Massachusetts into neighboring communities. The line begins west of Boston, in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Alewife station, near the intersection of Alewife Brook Parkway and Route 2...

.

Original site and name


During a weekend visit to Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 on October 19, 1963, President Kennedy, along with John Carl Warnecke
John Carl Warnecke
John Carl Warnecke was an architect based in San Francisco, California, who designed numerous notable monuments and structures in the Modernist, Bauhaus, and other similar styles. He was an early proponent of contextual architecture. Among his more notable buildings and projects are the Hawaii...

 — the architect who would design the President’s tomb in Arlington
John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame
The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame is a presidential memorial at the gravesite of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in Arlington National Cemetery. The permanent site replaced a temporary grave and eternal flame used during President Kennedy's funeral on November 25, 1963. The site was designed by...

 — viewed several locations offered by Harvard as a site for the library and museum. At the time there were only four other Presidential Libraries
Presidential library
In the United States, the Presidential library system is a nationwide network of 13 libraries administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration...

: the Hoover Presidential Library, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, the Truman Library, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library. They were all scattered around the country in small towns from New York to Iowa. Kennedy had not decided on any design concept yet, but he felt that the existing Presidential Libraries were placed too far “away from scholarly resources.”

Kennedy chose a plot of land next to the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. The building would face the Charles River
Charles River
The Charles River is an long river that flows in an overall northeasterly direction in eastern Massachusetts, USA. From its source in Hopkinton, the river travels through 22 cities and towns until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Boston...

 which was a few feet away, and on the other side of which, the dormitories that included Winthrop House
Winthrop House
John Winthrop House is one of twelve undergraduate residences at Harvard College and home to slightly under 400 students.Commonly referred to as Winthrop House, it consists of two buildings, Standish Hall and Gore Hall. Both were built in 1912 as separate freshman dormitories...

 where Kennedy spent his upperclassman days. Kennedy was assassinated a month later, on November 22, 1963.

Since Kennedy encouraged his Administration to save effects of both personal and official nature, the complex would not just be a collection of the President’s papers, but “a complete record of a Presidential era.” And so, the building would have the word museum appended to its name: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Initial progress


After President Kennedy was assassinated
John F. Kennedy assassination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

 in November 1963, his family and friends discussed how to construct a library that would serve as a fitting memorial. A committee was formed to advise Kennedy's widow Jacqueline
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle...

, who would make the final decision. The group deliberated for months, and visited with architects from around the world including Pietro Belluschi
Pietro Belluschi
Pietro Belluschi was an American architect, a leader of the Modern Movement in architecture, and was responsible for the design of over one thousand buildings....

 and others from the US, Lucio Costa
Lúcio Costa
Lucio Costa was a Brazilian architect and urban planner.-Career:Costa was born in Toulon, France.Educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne, England and in Montreux until 1916, he graduated as an architect in 1924 from the School of Fine Art in Rio de Janeiro...

 from Brazil, and Italy's Franco Albini
Franco Albini
Franco Albini was an Italian Neo-Rationalist architect and designer.A native of Robbiate, near Milan, Albini obtained his degree in architecture at Politecnico di Milano University in 1929 and began his professional career working for Gio Ponti. He started displaying his works at...

. Mrs. Kennedy and others met with the candidates together at the Kennedy Compound
Kennedy Compound
The Kennedy Compound or Hyannis Port Historic District is the name given to six acres of waterfront property on Cape Cod along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, United States....

 in Hyannis, Massachusetts
Hyannis, Massachusetts
Hyannis is the largest of seven villages in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Also it is the commercial and transportation hub of Cape Cod and was designated an urban area as a result of the 1990 census. Because of this, many refer to Hyannis as the "Capital of the Cape"...

, and visited several in their offices. The committee also conducted a secretive process whereby the architects voted anonymously for the most capable of their colleagues.

Progress on the building began shortly after his death. On January 13, 1964, the then Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

 announced that a taped oral-history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

 project was to be undertaken for inclusion in the library. The project would feature his Administration staff, friends, family
Kennedy family
In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

 and politicians from home and abroad. The Attorney General also announced that Eugene R. Black, Sr.
Eugene R. Black, Sr.
Eugene "Gene" Robert Black, Sr. was President of the World Bank from 1949 to 1963. His father, a 1930s Chairman of the Federal Reserve, also named Eugene Robert Black, did not use the "Sr." suffix; Gene's son became Eugene Robert Black, Jr.Black was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1898...

 agreed to serve as chairman of the board of trustees and that $1 million of Black’s $10 million goal had been given to the trust by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation.

The death of the President was still fresh in the hearts and minds of the American public and by March of that year $4.3 million had been pledged, including 18,727 unsolicited donations from the public. Large donations came from the Hispanic world with Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 pledging $100,000 and Governor of Puerto Rico
Governor of Puerto Rico
The Governor of Puerto Rico is the Head of Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Since 1948, the Governor has been elected by the people of Puerto Rico...

, Luis Muñoz Marín
Luis Muñoz Marín
Don José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist, and politician. Regarded as the "father of modern Puerto Rico," he was the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico. Muñoz Marín was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera, a renowned autonomist leader...

 offering the same. The oral-history project also began recording, starting with Mrs. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. Originally projected to consist of interviews with 150 people, 178 had agreed to participate and the total number of expected participants doubled to 300, with just one person declining to take part, a Secret Service
United States Secret Service
The United States Secret Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency that is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The sworn members are divided among the Special Agents and the Uniformed Division. Until March 1, 2003, the Service was part of the United States...

 agent.

Also by this time fourteen architects were named to serve on a design advisory committee:
Americans Base
Pietro Belluschi
Pietro Belluschi
Pietro Belluschi was an American architect, a leader of the Modern Movement in architecture, and was responsible for the design of over one thousand buildings....

 
Dean of the M.I.T. School of Architecture
MIT School of Architecture and Planning
The MIT School of Architecture and Planning is one of the five schools of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA...

Louis Kahn
Louis Kahn
Louis Isadore Kahn was an American architect, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. After working in various capacities for several firms in Philadelphia, he founded his own atelier in 1935...

 
University of Pennsylvania Architecture School
University of Pennsylvania School of Design
The University of Pennsylvania School of Design is the design school of the University of Pennsylvania. It is currently ranked 3rd in urban planning by The Best Colleges, 10th in urban planning by Planetizen, and 8th in architecture by DesignIntelligence...

I. M. Pei
I. M. Pei
Ieoh Ming Pei , commonly known as I. M. Pei, is a Chinese American architect, often called a master of modern architecture. Born in Canton, China and raised in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Pei drew inspiration at an early age from the gardens at Suzhou...

 
New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

Mies van der Rohe  Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

Hugh Stubbins  Cambridge
Paul Thiry
Paul Thiry (architect)
Paul Thiry was an American architect most active in Washington state, known as the father of architectural modernism in the Pacific Northwest. Thiry designed "some of the best period buildings around the state of Washington during the 1950, 60s and 70s." - Life :Thiry was born in Nome, Alaska, of...

 
Seattle
Benjamin C. Thompson
Benjamin C. Thompson
Benjamin C. Thompson was an American architect.Thompson was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, graduated from Yale University in 1941, then spent four years in the United States Navy fighting in World War II...

 
Cambridge
John C. Warnecke  Washington
Overseas Base
Alvar Aalto
Alvar Aalto
Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was a Finnish architect and designer. His work includes architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware...

 
Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

Franco Albini
Franco Albini
Franco Albini was an Italian Neo-Rationalist architect and designer.A native of Robbiate, near Milan, Albini obtained his degree in architecture at Politecnico di Milano University in 1929 and began his professional career working for Gio Ponti. He started displaying his works at...

 
Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

Lucio Costa
Lúcio Costa
Lucio Costa was a Brazilian architect and urban planner.-Career:Costa was born in Toulon, France.Educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne, England and in Montreux until 1916, he graduated as an architect in 1924 from the School of Fine Art in Rio de Janeiro...

 
Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

Sven Markelius
Sven Markelius
Sven Gottfrid Markelius was one of the most important modernist Swedish architects. Markelius played an important role in the post-war urban planning of Stockholm, for example in the creation of the model suburb of Vällingby .Born in Stockholm in October 1889, he attended the Royal Institute of...

 
Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

Sir Basil Spence  England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

Kenzo Tange
Kenzo Tange
was a Japanese architect, and winner of the 1987 Pritzker Prize for architecture. He was one of the most significant architects of the 20th century, combining traditional Japanese styles with modernism, and designed major buildings on five continents. Tange was also an influential protagonist of...

 
Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...



Over the following months pledges continued to funnel in for the building still being conceptualized by the various architects. Some notable donations include $900,000 handed over to the Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

, John A. Gronouski
John A. Gronouski
John Austin Gronouski was the Wisconsin state commissioner of taxation and the United States Postmaster General.-Biography:...

 on July 9, 1964. It was the sum of a campaign encompassing 102 Federal agencies. Gronouski said many of the Federal employee contributions were in the form of a $5 withholding each payday for a period of three years. The next day the Indian Ambassador to the United States, Braj Kumar Nehru
Braj Kumar Nehru
Braj Kumar Nehru was the son of Brijlal and Rameshwari Nehru and a relative of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru....

 presented Mr. Black with a check for $100,000 during a ceremony at the River Club. Mr. Nehru said that the India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n people were hit by a “sad blow” when the President died, and that they held him “in the highest regard, esteem and affection.” He desired for Indian students abroad in the US to utilize the library, at the time, still planned for construction at Harvard along the banks of the Charles River.

Pei selected as architect


On December 13, 1964, the Kennedy family announced that I.M. Pei was unanimously chosen by a subcommittee as the architect of the library. Even though Pei was relatively unknown amongst the list of candidates, Mrs. Kennedy, who viewed him as filled with promise and imagination and after spending several months inspecting the many architects’ offices and creations, selected him to create the vision she held for the project. Pei did not have a design yet, but the idea as described by Robert Kennedy was to “stimulate interest in politics.” Meanwhile, the suggestion that Harvard may not be a suitable site for the library had begun cropping up. When asked if Pei may have had to start from scratch, he said this was the case. With an “encouraging grin” Robert Kennedy simply wished Mr. Pei “Good luck.”

Mrs. Kennedy chose Pei to design the library, based on two considerations. First, she appreciated the variety of ideas he had used for earlier projects. "He didn't seem to have just one way to solve a problem," she said. "He seemed to approach each commission thinking only of it and then develop a way to make something beautiful." Ultimately, however, Kennedy made her choice based on her personal connection with Pei. Calling it "really an emotional decision", she explained: "He was so full of promise, like Jack; they were born in the same year. I decided it would be fun to take a great leap with him."

Not long before Pei was selected, the $10 million goal set by Mr. Black had been reached. By 1965, fundraising was suspended when the contributions reached $20 million.

Years of setbacks


In January 1966, when Massachusetts Governor
Governor of Massachusetts
The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the executive magistrate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States. The current governor is Democrat Deval Patrick.-Constitutional role:...

 John A. Volpe
John A. Volpe
John Anthony Volpe was the 61st and 63rd Governor of Massachusetts and a U.S. Secretary of Transportation.-Early life and education:Volpe was born in 1908 in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He was the son of Italian immigrants Vito and Filomena , who had come from Abruzzo to Boston's North End in 1905;...

 signed a bill allowing the state to purchase the land for the site — an old train yard belonging to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority — it was expected that the project would be complete by 1970. The original design was a large complex comprising the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the John F. Kennedy School of Government
John F. Kennedy School of Government
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is a public policy and public administration school, and one of Harvard's graduate and professional schools...

, and an Institute of Politics. However the project faced many delays. The MTA would not agree to remove the heavy machinery from the land until 1970. By that time construction costs had risen to over $20 million. Only now could Pei prepare a six-month study of the site’s soil, and he said the “money we had six years ago, today will barely pay for 60 percent of the original plans.”

Robert Kennedy, by then a New York Senator, had been serving as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Corporation until he was shot and killed in 1968. Weeks before, William Manchester
William Manchester
William Raymond Manchester was an American author, biographer, and historian from Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, notable as the bestselling author of 18 books that have been translated into over 20 languages...

 and Harper & Row donated $750,000 to the library. The first in a series of installments expected to total $5 million, came from the profits of the book The Death of a President
The Death of a President
The Death of a President, November 20–November 25, 1963 is historian William Manchester's 1967 account of the assassination of John F. Kennedy...

which caused a bitter feud between the Kennedys and Manchester. Mrs. Kennedy remarked “I think it is so beautiful what Mr. Manchester did. I am glad that Senator Kennedy knew about it before he died.” The youngest of the Kennedy brothers, Senator Edward Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in United States history...

, would step down as vice president of the corporation to fill the newly vacant position.

By 1971, construction had still not begun; researchers and scholars were forced to work out of the Federal Records Center which was temporarily housing some of the 15 million documents and manuscripts. Pei said there was finally “a clear way ahead,” however, he was asked to save on construction expenses by using inexpensive materials. This would translate into Pei working with concrete instead of his preferred stone.

On May 22, 1971, President Kennedy’s Vice President
Vice president
A vice president is an officer in government or business who is below a president in rank. The name comes from the Latin vice meaning 'in place of'. In some countries, the vice president is called the deputy president...

 and successor, Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 saw the dedication of his Presidential Library in Austin
Austin
Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas.Austin may also refer to:-In the United States:*Austin, Arkansas*Austin, Colorado*Austin, Chicago, Illinois*Austin, Indiana*Austin, Minnesota*Austin, Nevada*Austin, Oregon...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. On the campus of the University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

, and next to the LBJ School of Public Affairs, he would beat the Kennedy team to building the first Presidential Library that also served as a place of scholarly research. He would not live to see work begin on his predecessor's.

Meanwhile, the Cambridge community was in fierce opposition to having the library being built in Cambridge at all. Although originally welcomed in 1965, the library was now seen as a great attractor of over a million annual tourists who would change the neighborhood with “hordes of tourists, automobiles, fast-food franchises and souvenir shops,” as well as cause a negative environmental impact. One neighborhood group would file a Federal suit demanding that the General Services Administration
General Services Administration
The General Services Administration is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S...

 study, which found that the great number of visitors would have “no adverse effect on the area,” be reexamined.

Stephen E. Smith, a Kennedy in-law who heads the John F. Kennedy Library Corporation decided that “we want the Kennedy Library to be a happy place. It would not be in keeping with the nature of this memorial for it to open in an atmosphere of discord and controversy.” And in February, 1975 the plans for having the library where President Kennedy would have wanted it, were dropped.

New location, new plan



The new location of the site was Columbia Point
Columbia Point (Boston)
Columbia Point, later referred to as Harbor Point, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts sits on a peninsula jutting out from the mainland of eastern Dorchester into the bay.-History:...

 in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, near the University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts
This article relates to the statewide university system. For the flagship campus often referred to as "UMass", see University of Massachusetts Amherst...

 at Boston, described as a group of “massive, blocky structures…in sharp contrast to the mellow and urbane atmosphere of the library’s original site near Harvard Square.” The site was originally a garbage dump, Pei recalls finding old refrigerators and appliances under the soil. In all seriousness, he asserted that one could toss a lit match on the earth and watch the ground ignite as the soil emitted methane gas. One thing the site did have going for it was that the community was not opposed to the area being landscaped to house the library.

June 12, 1977 marked the official groundbreaking for the library with construction following in August. Although the site was a landfill it did overlook Boston, Dorchester Bay
Dorchester Bay (Boston Harbor)
Dorchester Bay is the smallest of the three small bays of southern Boston Harbor, part of Massachusetts Bay and forming the south shoreline of the South Boston neighborhood and northeast shoreline of the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, as well as the north shore of the city of Quincy in...

 and the ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. The area was covered in 15 feet (4.6 m) of earth and topsoil
Topsoil
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top to . It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs.-Importance:...

. Pei was particularly proud of the landscaping results.

The design would be a simple geometric structure with a large glass pavilion. The concrete tower stands 125 feet (38.1 m) tall and houses offices and archives. A circular section contains two theaters and is connected to the tower by the 115 feet (35.1 m) grey-glass pavilion. The concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 finish of the building directly reflects the budget. With more money Pei would have made the building with stone which he believes offers a nicer finish with more detail. The materials chosen kept the costs within budget, in total costing $20.8 million.

Over 30 million people contributed to the cost of construction, which more than 225 construction workers worked to complete before the end of 1979.

Dedication


The official dedication was held on October 20, 1979. Outside the building on the green
Lawn
A lawn is an area of aesthetic and recreational land planted with grasses or other durable plants, which usually are maintained at a low and consistent height. Low ornamental meadows in natural landscaping styles are a contemporary option of a lawn...

, on a blue-carpeted stage with a bank of yellow chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemums, often called mums or chrysanths, are of the genus constituting approximately 30 species of perennial flowering plants in the family Asteraceae which is native to Asia and northeastern Europe.-Etymology:...

s sat the Kennedy family and those close to them. Among many others, President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 was in their company. The ceremony began with President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is an American author and attorney. She is a member of the influential Kennedy family and the only surviving child of U.S. President John F...

, introducing her brother, John F. Kennedy, Jr.
John F. Kennedy, Jr.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. , often referred to as John F. Kennedy, Jr., JFK Jr., John Jr. or John-John, was an American socialite, magazine publisher, lawyer, and pilot. The elder son of U.S. President John F...

, who read from the Stephen Spender
Stephen Spender
Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work...

 poem, I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great.

President Carter said of John F. Kennedy that he embodied “the ideals of a generation as few public figures have ever done in the history of the earth.” He spoke of openly weeping upon hearing about the death of Kennedy, something that he had not done since his own father died, ten years before. Afterwards, he accepted the library “on behalf of the American people” and the National Archives and Records Administration
National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

.

Senator Edward Kennedy, said of his brother's life, that it "was a voyage of discovery, a quest for excellence that inspired universal trust and faith. In that brief unfinished journey, he made us believe once more in the great historic purpose of this land. He filled America with pride and made the nation young again."

Critics generally liked the finished building, but the architect himself was unsatisfied. The years of conflict and compromise had changed the nature of the design, and Pei felt that the final result lacked its original passion. "I wanted to give something very special to the memory of President Kennedy," he said in 2000. "It could and should have been a great project." Perhaps the most important consequence of the Kennedy project for Pei was his elevation in the public's consciousness as an architect of note. Pei considered the John F. Kennedy Library "the most important commission in my life".

Features


The library's first floor features a museum containing video monitors, family photographs, political memorabilia. Visitors to the museum begin their visit by watching a film narrated by President Kennedy in one of two cinemas that show an orientation film — and a third shows a documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

. They are then allowed to peruse the permanent exhibits on display, which include an exhibit on the US Space Program during Project Mercury
Project Mercury
In January 1960 NASA awarded Western Electric Company a contract for the Mercury tracking network. The value of the contract was over $33 million. Also in January, McDonnell delivered the first production-type Mercury spacecraft, less than a year after award of the formal contract. On February 12,...

; the Briefing Room is an exhibit on talks given to the public, at home and abroad; an exhibit on his presidential campaign trail
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

; a look at the Kennedy Family; a section dedicated to the First Lady, and partial replicas of the Kennedy Oval Office
Oval Office
The Oval Office, located in the West Wing of the White House, is the official office of the President of the United States.The room features three large south-facing windows behind the president's desk, and a fireplace at the north end...

 and his brother Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

's office as Attorney General at the Department of Justice Building
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

, which has been named for him. After viewing the exhibits the visitors will find themselves under the glass pavilion. Other galleries display changing temporary exhibits. Outside the library during the spring, summer and fall is Kennedy's sailboat
Sailboat
A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails. The term covers a variety of boats, larger than small vessels such as sailboards and smaller than sailing ships, but distinctions in the size are not strictly defined and what constitutes a sailing ship, sailboat, or a...

, Victura.

Archives



Audiovisual


The audiovisual archives contain over 400,000 still photographs taken from 1863–1984, over 7.5 million feet (2.29×106 m) of film shot between 1910–83, and 11,000 reels of audio recordings from 1910–85.

Oral-history project


Begun in 1964, the oral-history project was a unique undertaking to document and preserve interviews with those associated with Kennedy. Initially expected to have about 150 participants, today it contains over 1,100 interviews and continues to this day. It is modelled after a program by the Columbia University Oral History Research Office
Columbia University Oral History Research Office
Columbia University Oral History Research Office was founded in 1948 by the scholar Allan Nevins. It is the world's oldest oral history program.-External links:*...

, the worlds oldest, which began in 1948. At its conception, while serving as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy speculated that some of the interviews, such as ones relating to the Cuban missile crisis might have to be sealed for a while, due to containing "highly classified material." He said that although the emphasis would be on releasing everything as soon as possible, some items might remain closed for 10 to 25 years.

Because the interviewees are allowed to review their transcripts before the interviews are released for use by scholars, the audio may differ from the written record; so that the interviewing may disambiguate any misunderstanding in their speech and make it clear in a written form.

Artifacts


The library keeps a wide range of artifacts, many of which can be found in their respective exhibits. One is the original coconut on which a rescue message was inscribed by Kennedy to rescue the crew of the PT-109
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Theater during World War II...

, and which was delivered by Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana
Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana
Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana were indigenous people of Solomon Islands, of native Melanesian descent, who found John F. Kennedy and his surviving PT-109 crew following the boat's collision with the Japanese destroyer Amagiri near Plum Pudding Island on 1 August 1943...

, natives of the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

.

External links