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Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Bridge to the Past: The Los Angeles Central Library (Tour o' Downtown: Part III)

Our two hour tour of downtown Los Angeles ended where we first started - at the Los Angeles Central Library. This is the last of three posts on our downtown tour. Here's a link to the first post, which focused on the Bonaventure. And a link to 
the second, which focused on the Wells Fargo Center and the California Plaza on Bunker Hill. Free free to scroll down and then read them back in order.

In that we're still waiting for L.A.'s "subway to the sea" to become a reality, we took our car. As I shared in a previous post, parking downtown can be very expensive. Hot tip: if you have a Los Angeles Public Library card, the 524 South Flower Street Garage is available at just $1 for the first hour, and then only $4 for each additonal two hours. Here's a
link to more info.

If you've never seen it, the Los Angeles Central Library is a historic treasure and definitely worth a visit. The library originally opened in 1926, and in 1986 was saved by the heroic efforts of the Los Angeles Fire Deparement from an arsonist's fire. The city rallied around not just to to save and rebuilt, but to renovate and restore the building. It was reopened in 1993. Today it's a state of the art building that maintains it's historic roots.

Here's the children's section. There are some beautiful artwork focusing on varoius scenes from California history along the walls - and a huge selection of children's literature.

My kids along with my sister and her little three year old in the rotunda located on the 2nd floor. Each of the four walls contains more artwork - this time murals - depicting California history.

Below on the first floor. The ceiling artwork is by artist Renee Petropoulos. Here's a link describing other architectural highpoints found througout the library.

My favorite part of the library is actually the beautiful public park on the west end of the library. At one time this was a parking lot - making this garden a huge improvement! There are some beautiful fountains, large mature trees, and an outdoor cafe. It makes for a wonderful "welcome mat" to the four million people who live here in the city of Los Angeles.

One of the fountains contains this quote from nineteenth century abolintionist Frederick Douglass:

"Power never concedes nothing without a demand. It never has. It never will."

The design of this fountain reminds me of the passage found in Amos: "Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream." (Amos 5:24).

There is so much more to downtown Los Angeles: our brief two hours were just a chance to walk around and see some of the sights. 
I'd love to come back and have lunch in Cafe Pinot, the adjacent outdoor cafe (where apparently kids under 12 eat free? really? wow!)  but that have to wait for another day.

We opted for the "Panda Express" just inside the library. At least we were able to enjoy our lunch with this impressive view of the cafe and the Bonaventure.

Of the three places we visited, the Bonaventure, the office towers on Bunker Hill, and the Central Library - I found the Central Library the most enjoyable.

Why? Not sure. Maybe it's because of the three, it's the most public - and most welcoming - of spaces.

Maybe because it's a reminder of both heroic efforts of the Los Angeles Fire Deparment in 1986 - and the thousands of men and women that rallied around it to rebuild it.

But most of it, I think it's because of the chance to connect with Los Angeles' history. To walk through a building that has served generations of Angelenos. And, God willing, will serve generations to come.

© 2009


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