630 W. 5th St, between Grand and Flower
After several locations since first being established in 1878, the Los Angeles Public library found a home in this specially-designed building. The building, designed by Bertram G. Goodhue, was dedicated on July 15, 1926. Goodhue's design was modeled after the architect's previous creation, the Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln. For many years the library had numerous entrances, tide pools, and rolling expanses of grass. One by one these features were reduced due to the growth of downtown and the need for parking. In the 1980s two arson fires damaged the building and tens of thousands of books, resulting in major renovation and the addition of the rear atrium. The building accurately resembles its original look, yet the new wing adds a post modern feel. The atrium (photo at left, center) also allows natural light into the building, much like the Bradbury Building, allowing visitors to escape the chaos of downtown. The building is now dwarfed by the skyscrapers that surround it. The air space above was sold to the developers of the Library Tower so that they could build the tallest building between Chicago and Hong Kong.
The photo above (left) shows part of the series of fountains in the library's courtyard, which includes some of the most beautiful green space in downtown. The photos at right show portions of the mural by Dean Cornwell in the library's second floor rotunda, The mural illustrates moments in California history, including the founding of Los Angeles (above, right). The library offers tours of its public art.
PHOTOS: J. Mapes