Just west and north of the old library, dilapidated hotels, factories and business buildings were cleared to make way for something new in the late 1960s. Once the news broke that the Watch Factory would close, Elgin gave up its resistance to accepting Federal money. Combining Federal Urban Renewal funds, State, city and private monies, the Civic Center included the US Post Office, the Illinois State Appellate Court House, the Hemmens Cultural Center, City Hall, and the second Gail Borden Library.

The plaza behind City Hall is a "front porch" for the Cultural Center' in winter, it is filled with bundled up ice skaters puffing like steam engines moving in rhythmic, counter clockwise circles. The riverfront behind the Cultural Center offers relaxing vistas of Walton Island, people strolling the bike path, and fishermen trying their luck in the rolling waters below the dam.

The library relocated to a new building in the 1970s along the north edge of the Civic Center, and once again, outgrew itself. A new, huge library was built across the street in 2002. It anchors the corner of revitalized industrial land that also includes the bike path and a Veteran's Memorial with more cultural amenities to be added. 

Since you are energized from walking to the library, circle back to the Centre, Elgin's recreational facility. Take a dip in the pool, go rock climbing, or jog around the track.