Central Library, The Seattle Public Library moves into new Carnegie-funded building on December 19, 1906.

  • By HistoryLink Staff
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1926
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On December 19, 1906, Seattle's new public library building opens in the block between 4th and 5th avenues and Spring and Madison streets. The classical Beaux Arts building was funded by Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) and designed by Peter J. Weber.

The site was on a rather steep hill fronted by wooden sidewalks and a dirty 4th Avenue. When its front door opened to the public on December 19, 1906, there was no need for a grand stairway.

Within two years, however, the construction of the Carnegie Library resumed when City Engineer R. H. Thomson (1856-1949) directed the regrading of 4th Avenue. At Madison Street, 4th Avenue was lowered 10 feet. One block north at Spring Street, it was lowered two feet more. This put the entrance of the library on the second floor, and required the construction of a grand front stairway to reach the front door.

In its new and grand Beaux Arts landmark, the Central Library began adding departments and services, including in 1907 a periodicals room, and a Fine Arts Division. Also that year, the first embossed books for the blind were circulated. Several deposit stations opened around town, 19 of them in fire stations. By 1907, the library held 93,784 books in its collection and served 29,118 borrowers. Half a million books circulated every year.

The building housed the central library until 1957, when it was torn down and replaced.


HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Times and Tomes Past: A Pictorial History of the Seattle Public Library" (Paul Dorpat with Chris Goodman,), http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed December 29, 1999); Judy Anderson, Gail Lee Dubrow, and John Koval, The Library Book: A Good Book for a Rainy Day (Seattle: Seattle Arts Commission, 1991), 18, 29.

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