Nestled in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, California, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) stands as a beacon of knowledge, community, and architectural splendor.
With its vast collection of books, innovative programs, and iconic architecture, the library has been a cherished institution for over a century.
I visited the Los Angeles Public Library. On the very top of the building, under the mosaic pyramid, the words inscribed are “Shakespeare Goethe”.
California History Murals in Children’s Literature Department by Albert Herter.
Los Angeles Public Library: Founding and Early Years
The LAPL was established on February 1, 1872. Its first location was a small room in the Downey Block, a commercial building in downtown Los Angeles. The library started with a collection of 500 books donated by individuals and organizations. Over time, the library faced financial difficulties and struggled to expand.
There was a beautiful card catalogue built-in to the wall:
This surrounds the outside of the building on one block.
Across the street were these beautiful Spanish-style steps:
Central Library Building (1906)
In 1906, the Central Library building, located at the corner of 5th Street and Grand Avenue, was opened to the public. The building, designed by architect Bertram Goodhue in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, featured an impressive façade with elaborate decorative elements. The Central Library building still serves as the main branch of the LAPL today.
The Great Library Fire (1986)
One of the most significant events in the LAPL’s history occurred on April 29, 1986, when a devastating fire broke out at the Central Library building. The fire destroyed or damaged approximately 400,000 books and caused significant structural damage. However, due to the heroic efforts of firefighters and library staff, a large portion of the collection was saved.
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