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Harold Washington College is named after the first African-American Mayor of Chicago and was opened in 1962. 

The college had just 250 students in the first semester. Classes were held on the 11th floor of the former University of Chicago/DePaul Center, eventually occupying six floors as the student population grew. The new school pulled in just enough tuition money to pay the rent.

In 1982, the college moved from 185 N. Wabash into new facilities at 30 East Lake Street. During a commencement address at Loop College in 1984, Mayor Washington spoke about the importance of community:  “It is from the diversity of city life and the variety of cultures and backgrounds…that we find the common threads that bring us together to form a college community.”

Mayor Washington had been a strong advocate of education in Chicago and especially City Colleges of Chicago. Within weeks of his untimely death, the CCC Board of Trustees re-named Loop College Harold Washington College in 1987. 

In 2012, Chancellor Hyman and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that harold Washington College would serve as City Colleges’ College to Careers hub for business, professional services, and entrepreneurship programs.  Through College to Careers​, Harold Washington College works with industry experts and four-year colleges to ensure its programs prepare students for success in the careers of today and tomorrow.