Dooway and Frieze in Gigapan

T

Once upon a time…”

When the Los Angeles Public Library opened in 1927, there were no such things as Saturday morning cartoons, animation was still in its infancy, and books introduced children to all of the discoveries that the world had to offer.  From the simplest of Mother Goose nursery rhymes, to stories of adventure, and mythology.

The subjects that fill the Children’s Court were chosen by Hartley Burr Alexander, a Nebraska-born, Columbia-educated professor of philosophy who read hundreds, perhaps thousands of books, from as soon as he could read until he died in 1939.  

Please enjoy these images.  How many Los Angelenos are even aware of these amazing images that have been tucked away inside of the library for nearly nine decades.

Please be sure to share this page with anyone who has children and make sure that they read about all of the characters and stories that Professor Alexander wanted children to wonder about.  Through these stories, we come to understand what he meant by “THE WORLD IS MY BOOK.”


IF YOU LIVE IN L.A., PLEASE TAKE YOUR CHILDREN TO SEE THESE MAGNIFICENT WORKS!

Lee Lawrie’s Sculpture at the Children’s Court of the Los Angeles Public Library.

The Children’s Court was intended to be an outdoor reading room for children.  When the library was built, there was generally no air conditioning, so outdoors provided the perfect environment for kids to sit outside on sunny days and escape into literature, opening their minds to the world beyond the library.

Lawrie created these sculptural details and panels to communicate their ideas to kids, and everyone really. The frieze over the door features Proteus and Galatea, the California Bear, a Chinese Junk, an Octopus, a Clipper Ship, and the Globe.

There are Carytids, or female-column figures supporting the lintel, carved with the words “The World is My Book,” suggesting that books can take you anywhere you want to go, as well as to any period of history you wish to visit.

Among the children’s stories and mythological elements Lawrie designed into these artistic subjects are Romulus and Remus from the founding of Rome, Apollo, Pegasus, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood, Mother Goose, including The Cat and the Fiddle, Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son, St. George and the Dragon and King Arthur drawing the Sword from the Stone.

Also pictured is the Lotus Fountain, that details King Alfred and Louis IX or St. Louis learning to read from their mothers, Lady Osburga and Blanche of Castile.

For a gigapan, a HUGE, ZOOM-ABLE, PICTURE of this doorway, where you can see all of this detail even better, click HERE.  

LeeLawrie.com

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