This Parking Lot Is Hiding A Secret… And It’s Beautifully Tragic.
On the outside it looked like a regular brick building of its time, but the moment book lovers set foot inside, it was a stunning labyrinth of books waiting to be picked up.
The original Public Library of Cincinnati was a marvel of a construction; it contained spiral staircases, massively tall pillars, marble floors, and a skylight roof. The structure was meant to be an opera house before it became the home to over 300,000 books when it opened in 1874.
William F. Poole, the librarian at the time did not want the patrons to only be scholars, he wanted to attract the general public. Poole gave out library cards to children and introduced the practice of the library being opened on Sundays. Poole noted how "many of that class of young men who had previously strolled about the streets on Sunday, and spent the day in a less profitable manner, began habitually frequenting the rooms and spending a portion of the day in reading."
Soon after, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis began to open their doors on Sundays as well. The success in Cincinnati made it the prototype into what is today’s American public library system.
Known as Old Main, the building was hailed as “the most magnificent public library in the country.” By the 1920’s, however, the building was working beyond capacity. Ventilation deteriorated, the paint was peeling, and books were being stacked due to the lack of space.
The site was demolished in 1955. The busts of Benjamin Franklin, William Shakespeare, and John Milton welcoming people at the entrance of the library were the only pieces saved. Today, they sit in the new Main Library’s garden.
It cost the city $383,594.53 to purchase the lot and building, that is approximately $7.7 million today.
The interior looked like a massive cathedral. Bookworms were seduced by the checkerboard tiles, five-story high bookshelves, and panelled glass ceilings.
The old building was sold for $100,000 in today’s standard and quickly torn down to make room for a parking lot and office space.
Next, the most beautiful libraries in the world.
Source: Messynessy Chic