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.