'Four Great Eras of California History' – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

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'Four Great Eras of California History'

Inside this library, the history of Los Angeles is retold through a mural.  


The Los Angeles Central Library is an awe-inspiring structure on its own, a serene oasis in the heart of the city. With its tower topped with a gorgeous mosaic pyramid, it stands out above the hubbub of downtown, glistening against the clear blue sky.

LA Public Library’s main branch is truly a marvel: shelf after shelf of books standing in high-ceiling, museumlike chambers, guarded by Art Deco sphinxes like a bibliophile’s fever dream. But its crown jewel is the palatial Lodwrick M. Cook Rotunda, built right under the pyramid with a globe chandelier and a colossal tetraptych mural retelling the history of the Golden State. 

Created by popular American illustrator Dean Cornwell, the mural was created in 1932 and was given the title of Four Great Eras of California History. It took him five years to complete the work, which consists of twelve panels that represent scenes from the “four great eras” in the history of Los Angeles: Discovery, Mission Building, Americanization, and Founding of Los Angeles. Each part is done in the artist’s distinctive style utilizing bold lines and colors, offering an unforgettable art viewing experience in Los Angeles’ sanctuary of books.

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July 22, 2022

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