Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library

First opened in 1926, Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library is the third largest in the nation, and its subject departments contain more than 2.6 million books; 10,000 magazine subscriptions; 3 million historic photographs; 5 million U.S. patents; language learning tutorials; and and a plethora of multi-media resources. 

The Central Library is headquarters for the entire Los Angeles Public Library system, which includes 71 branch libraries.

Los Angeles Central Public Library

Arson fires in 1986 destroyed the Central Library, until the “new” Central Library opened in October 1993.

Currently, it now contains 538,000 sq ft of space, with approximately 89 miles of book shelves. The Central Library also has kept up with the times—it has 255 free Wi-Fi enabled public access computers located in its Computer Center, and throughout the building, providing its patrons with 600,000 annual hours of computer access.

From 2006-2007, the Library’s visitors checked out 1.2 million books and other items; presented over 2,000 programs attracting 46,000 people to attend its events; and responded to approximately 2 million reference questions.

Flower Avenue Entrance

A central feature of the Central Library is its Teen’Scape program, one of the nation’s first libraries within a library, designed by, and exclusively for teens.

Teen’Scape includes a “living room,” complete with sofas and 50”plasma TV’s; “Cyberspac” with more than 20 Internet-ready computers; and a Homework Center featuring computers with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint software applications.

The Teen’Scape program offers kids a place to feel welcome, comfortable, and provide them a venue to encourage them to do their homework, and have fun at the same time.

Helping Hand

Culturally, and atheistically, Los Angeles’ Public Central Library provides a city-wide educational resource center. With its never-ending source of books, art, art exhibits, and exhibitions, it’s a world class physical, artistic, and educational treasure for the city, that’s free and provides many rare and sublime glimpses of art, that are more typically reserved for showing at the LACMA, MOMA, the National Museum, or at the Christie’s or Sotheby’s auction houses.

For example, the current exhibit, “Richard Neutra, Architect: Sketches and Drawings,” will be available until January 31, 2010. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours.

If you’re interested in taking a tour of the Central Library, they provide daily walk-in tours lasting approximately for an hour:

Monday - Friday 12:30pm

Saturday - 11:00am & 2:00pm

Sunday - 2:00pm

Lastly but not least, either on your way in or out be sure to check out and spend some time at The Maguire Gardens, the 1.5 acre public park adjoining the library. At every corner and turn, you’ll find an angle, design, and item of wonder:

In Los Angeles, life’s treasures, and the treasures of life, are on display here every single day. When in Rome do as the Romans do—and when in Los Angeles and Southern California, always be sure to check out Travelin’ Local for what’s hip, new, and interesting.

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The Bright Lights of Los Angeles Past and Present

LA - 1908

The photograph above was taken in 1908. With a 1 hour exposure set by the photographer, 5000 feet atop Mount Wilson, the shot using the dark hues and tonality of black and white. It captures Los Angeles’ main arterial roads of that time, but provides a striking night view of the city’s evening outdoor lights.  The distance of the brightest lights from the photographer’s vantage point, is 20 miles away.

LA - 1988

This photograph was shot in 1988, and was also taken from Mt. Wilson at approximately the same location as the 1908 photo. Its 15-second exposure compares and contrasts the dramatic and spectacular growth of the Los Angeles basin at night.  The intersection of Lake Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in the City of Pasadena are in the foreground; with the Los Angeles Civic Center area in the middle of the photograph. The photograph is also quite artistic with its amalgam of colors, lines, and forms.

What an amazing difference 80 years makes. Both photographs are courtesy of The George A. Eslinger Street Lighting Photo Gallery, which also has a great photo exhibit of the various street light designs throughout the decades.

Imagine flying into LAX during the evening. After landing, you’d know that when Travelin’ Local here in Los Angeles, the term “Bright Lights, Big City” would aptly apply.

The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse where History meets the Arts

Completed in 1927, and modeled after the Mission San Antonio de Padua, the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse was built by poet, Los Angeles Times columnist, and Democratic Congressman from California, John Steven McGroarty, with the sole purpose of having a large stage to present his epic "Mission Play”.

San Gabriel Mission Statement

Essentially, the play’s story and plot are about the lives, stories, and compelling tales of the people that were part of the Mission’s development in early California history. “Mission Play” is a drama about the founding of the California missions by the Franciscan Fathers, under the leadership of Father Junipero Serra. A classic example of "Mission Revival Style architecture," the Mission Playhouse has a stage, and dressing rooms, large enough to accommodate the cast of 150, for the 4½ hour production.

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse Close-up

Sadly, in 1932, the Great Depression forced the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse to close.

After several years of decay and disruption– including a severe housing shortage during the war years, when the playhouse’s dressing rooms were converted into apartments– in the mid-40’s a group of fretful San Gabriel inhabitants decided to form a citizen’s committee to have the Playhouse purchased by the City.

Walking the Hallway

Success was achieved in 1945, and the city purchased the Mission Playhouse, fulfilling the vision by its founder, John Steven McGroarty’s , that it forever belong to the people.

Today, the Mission Playhouse is a modern facility that is home to many outstanding performing arts groups, including the Music Theater of Southern California, which has presented many successful seasons of the Best of Broadway since 1984.

Looking up

Located at 320 S. Mission Dr. San Gabriel, the Mission Playhouse, is well worth a visit to history past and present, and where art and architecture are icing on this iconic building, its history, its symbolism, and its importance to California’s Mission system that presaged modern life here.

Aptly situated in the heart of the San Gabriel Historical Walk, the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is clearly a unique and special place you’ll find while Travelin’ Local where History really does meet Art in every single way possible.

Small Thoughts have Enormous Meanings

Mark Taper Auditorium

The downtown central branch of the Los Angeles Public Library has several important walls. They’re not ordinary walls, but were visually, artistically, and architecturally created, to express a wide-range of thought, wisdom, and philosophy. The famous poet, Robert Frost is well known for his oft repeated and well-proven quote that:

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

See the rest at: Fences and Public Art

The Metro and Poetry in Motion

Poetry in Motion® is a program that was developed by the Poetry Society of America and the MTA New York City Transit in 1992 to make bus and subway riding a more pleasurable and enlightening experience.

Inspired by a similar program in the London Underground, the program places poem-placards in the spaces usually reserved for advertisements in subway cars and buses. Since its founding 10 years ago, the program has expanded to 14 cities across the country, reaching 13 million people daily.

In case you may not have noticed, the Los Angeles Metro system has many poems and placards in its busses, trains, and railcars with poems selected from the Poetry Society of America’s committee.

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

In fact, in April 2009, live poetry readings took place at Union Station. With any luck at all, a similar program will take place next year.

The Poetry Society of America provides an awesome array of resources for all things poetry related and they’re nothing short of amazing. For instance, their resource page for links and sources for Poetry Journals, Poetry Publishers & Small Presses, Literary Organizations, Independent Bookstores, Poetry Colonies, Conferences & Festivals, Contests, Creative Writing Programs, and Children’s Poetry organizations are all diligently organized, and easily accessed at their website.

Also, be sure to check out their comprehensive Article and Feature News story section as they have indexed many of the major projects and happenings across the nation.

To be sure, riding the Metro is environmentally conscious, budget friendly, and allows you time to work and enjoy your surroundings during your ride. But now you also know that you can read great poems at the same time also.

So the choice is yours:

Corporate Head

Bury your head in the abyss of ignorance, or get happy and check out a few poems on your local Metro bus.