Stopping by my daily history read, I learned that it was on this day 30 years ago that the Carnegie Building reopened as the Carnegie Reading Room. Located at the intersection of Main and Hastings, I thought it would be worthy of the history profile to see how the building has been a part of the community for over a century.
“On March 25th, 1901 Vancouver requested and was granted $50,000 from US steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to build a library. Carnegie agreed to give the funds only if the city furnished a site and agreed to spend $5,000 a year. The city council accepted the Carnegie gift and its conditions.” – (VancouverHistory.ca)
Built in 1903, it was indeed the first public library in Vancouver. In 1957 the library moved on to a bigger location and it became the home of the Vancouver Museum for ten years. In 1967 the museum moved out and the building lay vacant. “Following a massive campaign spearheaded by the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association City Council agreed to save the building and convert it to a community Centre. Carnegie Community Centre opened its doors to the public on January 20, 1980.” – (Vancouver.ca)
Once again part of the Vancouver Public Library system, the City refers to it as “The Downtown Eastside’s Livingroom”.
Carnegie also has some beautiful architecture including skylights and a towering spiral staircase.
Services include the public reading room, a seniors centre, a learning/literacy centre, a kitchen (serving 3 meals a day), an art gallery, an auditorium & gym, and even a dark room along with a pottery room for creative classes.
It’s an amazing building that is testament to the diverse community of Vancouver’s Eastside and the determination to make a progressive, educational, and safe centre for all. It’s open 9:00am until 11:00pm every single day of the year, every day of the week, and is worth checking out.