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Where is the Central Library’s Front Door?

Central Docents, Central Library,
Library Entrance

Our free, docent-led Art and Architecture tours of the downtown LA Central Library begin and end in the Main Lobby.   But we are often asked:  where exactly is the library’s front door?  It’s a strange question for a landmark building.  Here's a bit of background on the many entrances:

When architect Bertram Goodhue started plans for the library in 1922, he intended for the main entry to face Hope Street.  At that time, the City didn't even own the land that runs from the library to Flower Street. 

Dome
Goodhue’s early drawing of the Hope St Entrance featured a dome

Goodhue actually designed two entrances for Hope.  One is the doorway at the top of the stairs that we use today.  The other is the tunnel entrance at street level – now closed to the public.  If you look at the sculpted figures above the tunnel, you’ll find that the image on the far left image is that of Goodhue himself! 

Hope Street Door  .Goodhue
Hope St Tunnel Entrance includes a sculpture of Goodhue on far right

Before Goodhue's design was final, the City acquired the land extending to Flower Street and instructed Goodhue to re-orient his design and make that the main entrance. 

Flower Street
Houses were demolished in 1925 to make room for the entrance from Flower St

Rather than scrapping the two Hope Street entrances, Goodhue designed a second main entrance and landscaped it with the three-tiered pools leading down to Flower Street. 

Flower Street Entrance
This 1926 photo shows how a curving path led up to the Flower Street Entrance from corner of the property, similar to  today’s landscape design

Pools
Goodhue’s original 3 tiered pools at the Flower St Entrance 1937

In addition, Goodhue originally proposed a pedestrian bridge to span Fifth Street, leading from the top of Bunker Hill to the library’s Rotunda level.  But the idea proved too costly and was abandoned. Instead, there’s a street-level entrance on Fifth Street.

5th and Grand
The library from 5th and Grand in the early 1980’s

%th Street Entrance

Another entrance once led into the library from Grand Avenue.  Visitors would ascend a long sloping path across a lawn, passing by the children's wing, and leading into the west entrance of the library.  This entrance is gone now, and the lawn is now the site of the Tom Bradley Wing.

Original Grand Street Entrance
A long path led visitors up from Grand Avenue, passing by the Children’s Library, which had its own reading garden. The children’s garden was reconstructed and relocated next to the Taper Auditorium in the 1990’s. 

Want to learn more about the historic Central Library?  Take a free art and architecture tour of the DTLA Library. Walk-in tours M-F 12:30p, Sat 11a, 2p, Sun 2p. Garden Tours Sat 12:30p Follow us on Twitter @DTLALibrary  Book a tour: docents@lapl.org 

Research for some content developed by LAPL Docent Kenon Breazeale


 


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