At a Glance


Covering Californian urban history? Search more than 275,000 digitized images in Los Angeles Public Library's photo archives.

Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Photo, Central Public Library Rotunda, December 30, 2005, Night Owl City, Flickr

This vast collection of more than 275,000 digitized images sheds light on many aspects of 20th-century life in Los Angeles, especially the entertainment industry, politics and public issues, and suburban life. The collection is especially strong in images depicting the growth of LA from the turn of the century through its growth spurt between 1920 and 1939, including a series of promotional images designed to attract Midwesterners and east coast businesses to "the City with Promise."

The sheer quantity of photographs—including churches, municipal buildings, streets, and homes—allows users to track the evolution and growth of LA neighborhoods, making this collection especially useful for urban history courses. The collection also includes more than 10,000 photographs drawn from the family albums of a diverse group of Los Angeles residents.

Images can be accessed through a keyword search and limited by date range, though browsing is not yet available. In addition, users can add images to a "personal list" which can then be sorted by author, title, or call number and emailed/printed.