Skip to main content

Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

A look at the site selection process and initial construction

University of Illinois at Chicago Circle 1959-1972

For over thirty years, Chicago had two independent campuses for the University of Illinois — the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and the University of Illinois at the Medical Center (For resources on the general history of UIC and its predecessors, see the online research guide Researching UIC History).  The University of Illinois at the Medical Center had roots in Chicago's Illinois Medical District going back to the nineteenth century, although only in the fields of medicine and related health sciences.  A second University of Illinois campus in Chicago was opened in 1946 when university officials anticipated a large influx of veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill to attend college after the World War II.  This campus, officially known as the Chicago Undergraduate Division, was a two-year program located at Navy Pier.  Demand for the program soon outstripped the facilities available at the Pier and a search began for a permanent four-year traditional public university in the Chicago area.

In 1963, after many long years of debate, groundbreaking began for a new four-year campus at the intersection of Halsted and Harrison Streets.  Due to its close proximity to the Circle Interchange, the campus was called University of Illinois at Chicago Circle (UICC).  UICC opened to the public in 1965 and operated as a separate campus with its own Chancellor for seventeen years.  In 1982, Circle campus merged with the University of Illinois at the Medical Center to form the University of Illinois at Chicago that exists today.  The Medical Center campus became know as the "west side" and the former UICC campus as the "east side" of the unifed campus.     

The decision to locate Circle campus at Harrison and Halsted was controversial long after the construction was completed.  This is a guide to some of the resources available in the UIC Archives concerning the decision to locate the campus at the Harrison-Halsted site, the construction of the campus, and UICC's early impact on the surrounding community.