Civic Center of San Francisco – The Main Public Library – dedicated February 15, 1917 

May 9, 2017 | By | Reply More

An appropriate inscription over the main entrance to this building was composed by former Mayor Edward R. Taylor and reads as follows:

The Public Library of the City and County of San Francisco. Founded 1878. Erected, 1916. May this structure, throned upon imperishable books, be maintained and cherished from generation to generation for the improvement and delight of mankind.

More history is recorded on an inscription on the inside wall of the vestibule:

This building stands upon a portion of the site of the old City Hall. In its erection, the citizens of San Francisco were aided by a gift of $375,000 from Andrew Carnegie who also gave a like amount for the construction of branch library buildings.

Ground was broken for the Main Library in March 1915; its cornerstone was laid on April 15, 1916, with the dedication ceremonies following on February 15, 1917. The completed structure cost $1,152,167 of which $772,220 came from city funds, with the rest being supplied by the Carnegie gift.

Although much criticized now as being a beautiful but hopelessly inadequate building (which is almost certainly true) from the artistic and architectural standpoint, an observant stroll through the building will reveal some interesting features; for example, much of California and local history is recreated in the murals done by Frank DuMond.

Originally, these had been executed for exhibition at the PPIE; after this use, they were given to the library by the PPIE directors.

One panel, forty-seven feet long and twelve feet wide, is on the wall of the Reference Room and the other is on the wall of the General Reading Room; both are graphic demonstrations of the pioneer spirit which marked the winning of the West.

What the future use and disposition of this building will be is impossible to predict; however, for long, it has added to the impressive features that mark the Civic Center.

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Category: Fog City - City of Fog

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