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  • Central Library Architecture - Courtyard

    The Courtyard was designed to give a sense of seclusion in an urban setting.

    Myron Hunt was also responsible for the landscaping plan for Central Library. Even the palm trees are still placed as Hunt intended them to be in the original competition drawings: a natural way of softening the mass of wall on either side of the windows.

    Outdoor reading rooms off the Children's Room and the Humanities Wing (originally the Periodicals Room) were original parts of the building's design. The Children's patio is now regularly used for crafts and other activities.

    The fountain is copied from an alabaster fountain at El Mirador de Daraxa in the Patio de Daraxa at Spain's famous palace and fortress, the Alhambra.

    The great windows are aligned to follow the axis of the Civic Center plan. The windows are separated by Corinthian columns of cast stone.

    The oblong panel above each window contains amorini (cupids), griffins, and fruits.On the spandrels are blank tablets, griffins, fruits, and urns of fire. On the keystones above two of the windows are acanthus leaves.In the panels below the windows are cornucopias, urns of fire, griffins, and open books. Below the engaged columns are decorated square panels. Above each design of book or tablet is a bowl of acanthus leaves.

    Around each door are conventionalized architectural designs of flowers, leaves, and books. In May 1931, Fine Arts librarian Mrs. Patricia Dutcher provided the following key to the symbols:

    • Amorini (cupids) - Lesser gods of love, found in decorative art of all ages.
    • Acanthus - Gardens of heaven.
    • Fruit - Good works of the righteous. Plenty.
    • Griffin - Wisdom and enlightenment. Unassailable superiority. Eternal vigilance and wardenship.
    • Cornucopia - Horn of plenty. Abundance. Gifts.
    • Books - A library. Great knowledge. Education. Wisdom and scholarship.
    • Bowl of flame - Divine fire of learning. Divine enlightenment. Wisdom. Purity.
    • Scroll or tablet - Attribute of a prophet. Prophecy.
    • Rose - Love. Wisdom. Beauty. Silence.

    On the outside of the building are the following inscriptions:

    • Homer - Pindar - Virgil - Dante - Milton - Goethe - Shakespeare.
    • "The true learning that makes for righteousness" - Matthew Arnold (1822 - 1888), English poet and critic.
    • "Be made whole by books as by great spaces and the stars." - Mary C. Davies, California poet from The Skyline Trail, a Book of Western Verse, 1924.
    • The assembled souls of all that men hold wise - Sir William Davenant (1606 - 1668), English poet laureate, playwright, and theater manager. Plato - St. Paul - Aristotle - Bacon - Newton - Darwin - Pasteur

    Dr. Walter S. Adams (1876 - 1956), astronomer, director of the Mount Wilson Observatory, and member of the Library Board for 40 years, was responsible for the quotations and the names of the writers.

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