Central Library Downtown Los Angeles – Not So “Normal” Library

“Grow up, Los Angeles! Own your own public library and take your place with progressive cities!”  – the slogan of a 1921 bond issue. In 1926 the current library was dedicated and opened it’s doors to the fortunate people of Los Angeles.

Before I stepped into this unique and awe inspiring building I knew nothing about it’s history.  From the first few glances, of this majestic yet funky building I just knew it had a story to tell.  Started by strong interesting women on a mission, to surviving fires started by arson, this library is a survivor. Built on Normal Hill former site of the State Normal School, the forerunner of UCLA, this institution is far from “normal”, it’s extraordinary.

DSC_0019 we live in all ages


DSC_0007 central library plaque

As a kid growing up in small town Minnesota, my favorite place to beat the heat, besides our water filled swimming quarry outside of town was our very old historic library.  I would spend our in the basement which housed the children’s books and sat on  the cool tiled floor between the aisles of musty smelling books.  It was a treasure chest of insights into life and possibilities outside of the library basement.

DSC_0017 sky scrapers

So here starts my hot summer day adventure in Downtown LA.  My friend Britta and I ventured out and easily found parking at the 524 S. Flower Street ramp below the library.  If you have a Central Library card you get a small discount on parking, validate your ticket at the information desk.

DSC_0016 (1) front of library

DSC_0052 view from the library


DSC_0002-001 to live and dine in la banner

This exhibit was one of the draws for me to finally get to the library.  The history of dining in LA.

DSC_0020 bright mural plus old light

As you walk into the old stately building the blast of cold air conditioning lets you know you’re in the right place on a hot summer’s day.  The modern ceiling mural juxtaposed with the antique light fixture assures you’re in for a eclectic ride in this interesting hall of books, art and media.

DSC_0021 mural hallway

A friendly librarian is standing at the entrance ready to answer all of your questions and give you information on all of the state of the art technology the library offers.  We started off down this hall, looking up, down and all around to take in the architecture and LA history displays that surrounded us.

DSC_0022 (1) old library light

Look up, you see this antique light fixture, but keep going down  the hall to the huge collections of books you come to the very modern atrium. Wait!  This is nothing I expected from the exterior of the building.

DSC_0101 atrium


DSC_0024 (1) fiction

Get a library card!  You have access to any book, book on “tape”, movies streaming on-line, books on-line, so much information and entertainment at your disposal for free.

DSC_0025 book shelf


DSC_0027 book shelves


DSC_0032 woman in atrium

Then it happened.  We turned around and ventured down another long hall and this is what we found.  A gorgeous rotunda fitting with the architecture of the outside of the building, which seems to be a mash up of grand styles, not the misson or Spainish style you’d like of when you think of old Los Angeles.

DSC_0033 rotunda ceiling


DSC_0034 (1) library mural


DSC_0038 (1) rotunda ceiling with globe


DSC_0100 globe


It is much more grand than these pictures portray.  What a gem in the middle of this busy city. You’ll be so glad if you take the time to go explore these halls.  Better yet, take your kids, grand kids, nieces and nephews.

DSC_0039 (1) card catalog

A time before computers.

DSC_0043 children's lit


DSC_0048 (1) door to children's library


DSC_0046 ceiling in children's library


DSC_0054 children's reading area


DSC_0055 children's library

The children’s literature room is wonderful.  The helpful  librarian at the desk will happily help you find anything you need.  I was on the lookout for our very favorite children’s book “Seven Silly Eaters”  the illustrator Marla Frazee is outstanding.  She is a local woman from Pasadena and is incredibly gifted.  Her detailed whimsical illustrations can tell the story even without words. Every one of her books are fabulous.

DSC_0058 seven silly eaters


DSC_0062 mystery at lilac inn

I read this book over and over again as a kid.

DSC_0071 (1) lemon wall paper

I asked the librarian where we could find the “Live and Dine in LA” display.  She said “go out this door toward the statue and turn left, when you see the turquoise wallpaper with the lemons, you’re there”  This was my sign that today was one of the best days.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that this combination, lemons, the color turquoise, restaurants, menus and LA are my jam.

DSC_0066 live and dine in LA

DSC_0073 dine in LA mural


DSC_0074 dine in la mural 2


DSC_0077 (2) dine in la mural 3

DSC_0078 right to refuse service


DSC_0079 mural and lemon fabric

DSC_0087 bob's big boy

The history of food in LA depicted on murals and hands on reprinted menus from classic restaurants.

DSC_0092 (1) Lemon print



DSC_0098 (1) print making


DSC_0099 prints


DSC_0106 made in LA 3

After you take in all of the beauty inside the library building there a is a beautiful park setting on the side of the library adjacent to a picturesque cafe.

DSC_0004 fountain library

DSC_0006 bonaventure

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The “light of learning torch”.  You’ll learn so much about Los Angeles if you visit the Central Library.  It’s truly layered with interesting stories and beauty. A real layer of LA.

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