Los Angeles Central Library

Los Angeles Central Library

The Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library is the third largest central library in the nation. Designed by the major American architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, the Central Library opened on July 6, 1926. Variously described as Byzantine, Egyptian, Spanish, and modern, the building possessed as style unique to itself. The June 27, 1926 Los Angeles Times article noted: "All who have watched the progress of the building since October of 1924 realize that this structure signalizes a departure from a stereotyped style of public buildings. Recalling many styles and "orders" of architecture, it yet remains unique, individual, a mass composition to be studied, and like the classics in art or music, to become with study, nearer an appreciation of its harmony, dignity, and intelligent artistry."

In 1970, the Central Library building was entered into the National Register of Historic Places. Designated local landmark (Historic-Cultural Monument No.46), it was threatened with demolition and insensitive alterations starting as early as the late 1960s. The long-standing threat to the Central Library, along with threats to other important Los Angeles landmarks, spurred the creation of the Los Angeles Conservancy in 1978. On October 3, 1993 — more than 15 years after the building was first threatened with demolition — the Los Angeles Central Library re-opened in a grand community celebration.

Address: 630 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Library website: http://www.lapl.org/branches/central-library

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/losangeleslibrary

Library History: http://www.lapl.org//about-lapl/press/central-facts

Status: Active

Building the Los Angeles Public Library: The First Half Century, 1872-1926

Lecture by Dr. Kenneth Breisch, Founder of the Historic Preservation Graduate Program at USC School of Architecture, University of Southern California

The Los Angeles Central Library: Symbols of Mystery

Video by Michael Edelstein

Additional Resources

Breisch, K. A. (2016). The Los Angeles Central Library: Building an architectural icon, 1872-1933. Los Angeles : Getty Research Institute.

City of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning (2007, September 7). Historic-Cultural Monuments (HCM) Listing: City Declared Monuments.

Figenshow, S., Morris McNeill, Inc., & Los Angeles (Calif.). (1990). Historic cultural monuments: A review of historical monuments to identify potential cultural facilities. Los Angeles, CA.: City of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs Dept.

Fuentes, E. (2013, March 28). Central Library murals are also 80 years old. KCET.

Los Angeles Central Public Library showing a huge lawn in front of it, Los Angeles, after 1926. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections.

Los Angeles Times. (1989, October 4). Final plans OKd to refurbish library.

McGrew, P., & Julian, R. (1994). Landmarks of Los Angeles. New York, NY: H.N. Abrams.

Orlov, Rick. (2014, January 10). L.A.'s downtown Central Library, 8 branches to reopen on Sundays. Daily News.

Soter, B. D., Muench, J., & Library Foundation of Los Angeles. (1993). The light of learning: An illustrated history of the Los Angeles Public Library. Los Angeles, CA: Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

The Central Library as it stands surrounded by its beautiful greenery, circa 1938. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections.