The Allegheny Regional Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has been a landmark on the Northside since it was dedicated by President Benjamin Harrison on February 20, 1890. Working as a bobbin boy in an Allegheny City cotton mill, Andrew Carnegie was befriended by Colonel James Anderson, who opened his private library for public use. This generosity so influenced the young Carnegie that he resolved to devote his wealth to the same purpose.
Built in what was formerly the City of Allegheny, The Carnegie Free Library (as it was originally called), became the model for the thousands of publicly funded Carnegie libraries across the country. Carnegie once said, "Allegheny was my first love," and it was here that he offered $250,000 to build a library on the condition that it would be municipallly supported. The City of Allegheny accepted Mr. Carnegie's offer in 1886. The building eventually cost $300,000 and in 1915 Mr. Carnegie gavean additional $150,000 for its enlargement. The building also housed a music hall with seating for 1,100 people. The architects were Smithmeyer and Pelz of Washington, D.C., who had completed the Library Congress in 1889.
In 1956, the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny merged with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to become the Allegheny Regional Branch Library. In 1967, plans were drawn for remodeling and library operations were moved to rented quarters in Allegheny Center Mall. The interior renovation and exterior cleaning of the massive granite structure took seven years, and on May 19, 1974, the first free Carnegie public library supported by public funds reopened its doors. Since its original construction in 1889, the library has been renovated several times, in 1897, 1905 and 1958. Additions were constructed in 1901 and 1906.
NOTE: Above text excerpted from the 1990 brochure The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Regional Branch, Celebrates Its 100th Aniversary Year.
Allegheny Regional Branch's third floor meeting room/lecture hall, with a capacity of 120 people, is available to the public at no charge during regular library hours. Preference is given to library related activities and then to local community-based non-profit organizations. Facilities are booked according to availability and a rental fee is charged to for-profit organizations conducting or soliciting business. To obtain more information or to make a reservation, please call the library at 237-1890.
In 1904 Andrew Carnegie commissioned architect Henry Bacon and sculptor David Chester French, who collaborated on the Lincoln Memorial, to create a memorial to Colonel James Anderson. It was Anderson's generosity that inspired Andrew Carnegie to establish public libraries throughout the world. When Carnegie was a bobbin boy in a Pittsburgh factory, Colonel Anderson opened his personal library each Saturday to local "working boys."
The monument includes a bronze bust of Anderson, the figure of "Labor," a shirtless young workman seated on an anvil, and a large exedra (an elliptical granite bench). It was dismantled during the 1960's urban renewal of the Northside.
Ann P. Wardrop, a Life Trustee of The Carnegie, led the effort to restore the monument. The reconstruction, using the same kind of pink granite Henry Bacon used in 1904, cost in excess of $300,000. The memorial was rededicated May 15, 1988.
NOTE: Above text from the 1990 brochure The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Regional Branch, Celebrates Its 100th Aniversary Year.
Allegheny Regional Branch is proud to provide adminstrative and tutoring space for the North West Area Office of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. Prospective students, tutors, and/or volunteers should contact Sydney Schwartz Hardiman by telephone at 322-4442.