After the Chicago Fire, Queen Victoria of England donated 8,000 books to Chicago to replace the city library, which didn't yet exist.

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In April, 1872, about six months after the fire, the City Council agreed to establish a library, and on January 1, 1873, the first Chicago Public Library opened its doors at LaSalle and Adams "in a circular water tank that had survived the fire." Some books were purchased with donated money, but most were from what is now referred to as "The English Book Donation".