The Egyptian-flavored 1922 central library was designed by Bertram Goodhue and named for a former mayor. Sphinxes greet you at the 5th St entrance, a colorful 1933 mural showing milestones in LA history swathes a grand rotunda on the second floor, and it’s crowned with a stunning Mesoamerican mosaic of the sun.
In the modern Tom Bradley wing, escalators cascade down four glass-walled floors through a whimsically decorated glass atrium. Besides 2.1 million books, the library also holds a prized archive of historical photographs, art exhibits, and keeps a dynamic events schedule. One of the best is the Aloud LA series, often featuring major movers and shakers in arts, literature and politics. Recent speakers have included Stephen King, Walter Kirn and Sebastian Junger. It’s free but popular, so make online reservations. There are also free tours at 12:30pm on weekdays, 11am and 2pm on Saturday.