I went on a tour of the central library in downtown LA this weekend. It was free and the weather was gorgeous. I had tons of fun exploring the city again. I'm happy that I'm discovering more and more hidden gems here at home after I went on the Downtown LA Art Walk and a Downtown gastronomy food tour last year.
After having a delicious brunch at Bottega Louie (which I had been wanting to go forever, and we saw John Lithgow there - loved him in 3rd Rock from the Sun), we went on a self-guided financial district art walk before heading up to the library. Our first stop was the Ernst & Young Plaza. We saw this fun statue called "Corporate Head."
At first, people disliked this and they were offended by this piece of "art," but overtime, they grew to love it. Now people would pat on its back for good luck before going into the building to work. I hope it'll make me the #1 salesperson in my company! :D
Next, we visited 7th & Fig (Figueroa) to see "Portals to Poetry."
Then, we went inside the beautiful HSBC Bank Building. I love the gorgeous facade on the outside.
We went up to the atrium. Because it's on the weekend, we had this entire space to ourselves. It was so peaceful and serene and we didn't want to leave.
The ceiling of the atrium.
I was surprised to find a Statue of Liberty here! Everyone knows about the one in NYC which I visited in 2006, and the one standing by the Seine River in Paris that I saw in 2001, but I had no idea that HSBC Building has one also.
Next door to the HSBC Building is the Fine Arts Building. I love the facade. It's so intricate and reminds me of the Notre-Dame at the Petit Sablon in Brussels and the doorway of St. Vitus church in Prague which I visited in July 2010.
The inside of the Fine Arts building is also breathtaking. We were stunned by how beautiful this is and kept saying we would have NEVER known this existed if we just walked past by it on the street without anyone telling us.
Finally, we arrived at the library. I learned that the LA library is the third largest in the country, and that it is the largest research library west of Mississippi.
The Maguire Gardens in front of the library has fountains leading up to the entrance of the library. This first one says "Bright." The second one says "Lucid." The third one (behind me in the photo above) says "Clear."
I noticed that there are random carvings on the steps. There are different languages, complex math equations, music notes, and one even listed maybe 20 decimals of pi. How neat!
There are two statues right above the entrance. There's Wisdom of the East on the left with names of wise men from the east listed below, and same for Wisdom of West on the right.
A hand holding a torch atop the library building with the triangle and the sun pattern representing knowledge.
The library building forms a sharp contrast with all the modern skyscrapers surrounding it.
The vibrant ceiling painting of the welcome lobby inside the library by Renee Petropoulos.
The stairway leading to the Getty Gallery and Annenberg Gallery has two sphinxes symbolize the hidden mysteries of knowledge. They guard the Statue of Civilization that symbolizes all that the Library represents. Everything about this statue has a meaning from her crown, to the books she's holding, and down the front panel of her robe.
We were then greeted by this stunning rotunda!
All the murals below the arches were painted on canvas imported from Belgium.
This painting was originally called "Coming of the White Women." LOL!
The gorgeous chandelier. This Chandelier has 48 light bulbs surrounding it, which represented the 48 states of America at the time.
This was the old hand that was on top of the library building.
The beautiful ceiling work can be seen throughout the older part of the library.
The contemporary Tom Bradley Wing. These three chandeliers were done by Therman Statom. They represent the three types of knowledge we come to the library to learn: nature, technology/man-made, and spiritual. I love these chandeliers, they make me feel chirpy!
As we walked through different departments, I was happy to learn that they have a large collection of sheet music. :)
Someone in our group asked the docent what happened to all the library cards now that the library system is digital and online. Well, here's the answer: they are now used as wallpapers in the elevators (called the Bunn elevators, named after the designer who came up with this idea, David Bunn) and in the elevator tunnels!
How cool is this?!
The Tom Bradley Wing from a different perspective.
After the wonderful tour, we went back to Bottega Louie to pick up some yummy pastries to take home. Here are the pistachio financier, passion fruit and coconut tea cake (yum!), chocolate eclair, passion fruit eclair (my favorite...it's to die for!!! OMG!), and a coffee tart.
On the savory side are the veggie empanada (super delicious!), chicken pie, and Jamaican meat pie. They were all amazing!
If you live in the Los Angeles area and have never visited the library or if you are visiting, I highly recommend the Central Library tour. You'll learn a lot about LA. While its history, art, and architecture do not rival Europe or Asia, it is equally enchanting and fascinating. I'm loving the City of Angels more and more!
View the entire photo album here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplejoy/sets/72157625910098739/