Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Revitalized McNichols Opens and Moving Library Books

Mayor Michael Hancock cut the ribbon and officially opened the revitalized McNichols Civic Center Building, this morning.

This old/new jewel in Civic Center Park is a great addition to Denver’s cultural scene. The building was originally the Denver Municipal Library and had been made possible through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie – there were Carnegie libraries throughout Colorado – 35 in all – and some of the buildings continue to function as libraries.

The Denver Library opened in 1909 and served as the main public library until 1956 when the new Central Library opened, just across Civic Center Park between 13th and 14th on Broadway.

The building served municipal government purposes into the early 1990s but then was vacant until 2010 when a major remodel was undertaken and the building was used during the Biennial of the Americas, after which the building was again vacant. While some remodeling had occurred that had allowed the temporary use during the Biennial more work needed to be done and a certificate of occupancy could not be issued until that work was accomplished.

That has now been resolved and this oldest of new public cultural and event spaces is again open, and it is spectacular.

The opening of what is now the old Central Library in 1956 involved a rather interesting logistical move: transferring all the books, etc from the Carnegie to the Central. It was accomplished by building a giant conveyor belt all the way across Civic Center Park from the Carnegie Library at Colfax and Bannock to the Central library at 13th and Broadway.

The books were loaded into wooden crates and then set on the conveyor belt. These photos courtesy of the Denver Public Library show the process in 1956. In one photo

you can see the conveyor belt at the Central Library, in the other the belt reaches the upper floors of the backside of Carnegie. You can see one of the wooden crates rolling down the belt.

No comments: