Neighborhood Fixture: Lincoln Heights Library bends for books

Photo by Martha Benedict

Walking up the front steps of the Lincoln Heights Library. the Italian Renaissance-style building appears ready to embrace patrons as the 100-f00t-long facade bends to form a quarter-circle. The elbow-macaroni shape of what is now the city’s second oldest library was unusual even when it was completed in 1916 as one of six new branch libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie.

The main portion of library, which opened with 15,000 books lined up on shelves of English Oak, averaged about 27 feet in width, according to an L.A. Times story from August 1916.   “The odd shape is said to give a maximum of book space,” said the story.

The approximately 10,000-square-foot library, which was originally named the Northeast Branch until it adopted the Lincoln Heights name in 1919, had other “unusual features,” according to the Times, including a “restroom” for library staff that included “couch, tables and chairs, a sanitary food cabinet and an electric stove for cooking.”  The building located at Workman Street and E. Avenue 26 cost $34,000.

After being closed for a few years, the Lincoln Heights Library reopened in 1996 after being reinforced to help withstand earthquakes.

Neighborhood Fixture provides a bit of history and background about buildings and sites that catch our attention, for better or worse.

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