Los Angeles Central Library Los Angeles

Image by Sheila Stone

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Sheila from Los Angeles

History buff, unabashed Anglophile, local travel tour-operator. LA's a wonderful...

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I admit it, I just love libraries! ALL libraries hold a special magic (i.e. free books!) but  this one IS extra-special. 

The original building (built in 1926) is a fanciful mixture of Art Deco, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Southern California Mission styles decorated by sphinxes with a rooftop pyramid. The magnificent rotunda is surrounded by four massive painted murals depicting California’s history and capped by the stunning Zodiac Chandelier.

By the 1960s, the library building was overcrowded and had suffered a great deal of physical deterioration. A debate about historic preservation followed that lasted more than a decade and was instrumental in creating the Los Angeles Conservancy. In 1983 a plan was finally decided upon that encompassed saving the original building and creating a complimentary addition to increase space. This was financed in large part by selling the library’s air rights to neighboring high rise developments. 

The Tom Bradley Wing was opened in 1993. While more modern, it still delights with an eight-story, glass-roofed atrium filled with enormous marble columns and whimsical chandeliers. (Be sure to check out the elevators – the inset walls are lined with old card catalog cards!)

The outdoor gardens are filled with more artwork, bubbling fountains, a couple of nook-filled patios, and – naturally – a bunch of great places to curl up with a good book.   

Take a free tour to learn more about the library. The docents are knowledgeable and great fun – and you can’t beat the price! 

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Sheila from Los Angeles

Sheila Stone photo

History buff, unabashed Anglophile, local travel tour-operator. LA's a wonderful...

Read all articles

Details about this spot



West 5th Street 630, Los Angeles

Telephone number


Opening Times

Mon - Thu 10:00 - 20:00, Fri - Sat 09:30 - 17:30, Sun 13:00 - 17:00


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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)