Felipe de Neve Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, Lafayette Park, 1929-2012


The 48th branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, named in honor of city founder Felipe de Neve, opened in 1929 on the 148th anniversary of the city’s founding. The main building, a blend of Renaissance and Romanesque Revival styles, sits along the northern edge of Lafayette Park, facing Sixth Street. At the rear of the building, a series of terraces descends the park’s gentle slope, leading to the fountain and lily pond pictured in the foreground.

Owing to its dense central Los Angeles location, Felipe de Neve remains one of the city’s busiest library branches, despite radical changes to its surrounding neighborhoods. After it was deemed seismically unsound in 1990, the library was moved to a temporary location while the building awaited a long-delayed retrofit. Its two-year restoration project, completed in 1998, added two side pavilions to accommodate the branch’s growing client base. Although the lily pond was restored during construction, it has once again fallen into a sad state of neglect. Besieged by crime since the early 1990s, the drained pond is now fenced off from both the park and the library itself.

1. Becker, Maki. “Seismic retrofitting to begin at landmark library.” Los Angeles Times. 29 May 1996. 4.
2. “Library to be dedicated.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Sep 1929. A7.
3. Ricci, James. “Riding high on a sea of civility and knowledge.” Los Angeles Times. 12 Mar. 2000. 9.
Original photo: “examiner-m4611 – Filipe de Neve Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, 1929.” Los Angeles Examiner Prints Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/EXM-P-S-LOS-ANG-CIT-BUI-171.

This entry was posted in Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, Then and now and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Felipe de Neve Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, Lafayette Park, 1929-2012

  1. This was my local branch library when I was a kid (I lived on Westmoreland south of 3rd Street) and while I don’t know if they still have age restrictions, at that time my parents had to ‘lobby’ the librarian so I could get an adult card to check out books that were not in the children’s section. And it’s a shame the pond has been closed again. Among my earliest childhood memories were watching the dragon flies soaring around the pond and the water striders gliding across the surface of the water.

    On possible solution n might be to make the pond narrower for easier maintenance. The experience of being able to sit alongside the water would still exist, but keeping the water clean would be easier and it would allow for more grass and landscaping for the increasingly expanding population using the park.

  2. shaunlandry says:

    I have been searching the internet for pictures of what Koreatown looked liked in the early teens through the 40’s. Though I did not find pictures of what I was hoping for (Along Oxford Avenue and 11th where the homes are and where I’m about to move) this is a lovely website.

    Well played sir. Well played. Congrats on being carless too! Go Environment! 🙂

    Shaun Landry

  3. Edgar Sanchez says:

    My father used to take me and my brother there in the 70’s, love this library !
    I went to Union Ave. Elementary and we used to live on Columbia Avenue by Belmont High School, that was my favorite library, I used to borrow 45 records, Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha !

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