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Los Angeles Public Library History

Hamburger's Department Store

Housed the library from 1908-1913.

(R) A Tichnor Brothers postcard. It's rare to see one of this Boston printer's cards with a Western subject.


The 1906 building was designed by Alfred F. Rosenheim. Hamburger's morphed into the May Company. The building is now the Broadway Trade Center.

Next came a sad gap in the history. In 1921, residents realized that they needed a freestanding library.  Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue designed them a great one. Dying in 1924 prevented him from seeing the Spanish/ Roman/Egyptian wonder, still in use today.

Los Angeles Central Library

In 1926, this building opened. It was nearly demolished in the 1970s. An arsonist came close to destroying it in 1986. A horrible loss of materiel occurred: it was 1993 before service returned to the damaged structure.


According to a 2011 blog entry, 20% of its contents was unsalvageable. It took 20 fire companies in the brave effort.

A Grogan photo postcard, perhaps the most accurate view I have.

A 1927 postmark confirms this as the oldest postcard I have of the building.

A Tichnor Quality View, mailed in 1930.

Western Publishing postcard, also from early in the Library's history.

(L) Entrance to the Children's Library.

(LC) This is the mural "Education," by Dean Cornwell, painted in 1932-33. It might be one of the rotunda murals.

(RC) The Children's Room, with more Cornwell murals.

(R) Another mural in the Children's Room.

The center and righthand cards were once part of the Kellogg Public Library collection, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Teen/Young Adult literature collections are fairly recent in public library history. This 2000 postcard was a benefit for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, and photographed by Tom Bunner.

Harbor District

I believe this small building with its outsize dome was replaced by the Harbor Gateway Branch.

This might be one of the earlier Tichnor Bros. postcards in my collection.

Harbor District Library of Los Angeles, CA.

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