Chinatown Branch Library, the third San Francisco Public Library branch to be established, was originally named the North Beach Branch. It was built in 1921 by architect G. Albert Lansburgh with $67,589 in Carnegie funds and features a façade of pressed brick and terra cotta. Located in the Chinatown district, on Powell Street between Washington and Jackson Streets, the branch name was changed in 1958 to reflect more accurately the community it serves.
Community Block Development Grant funds were used to create a community garden behind the branch in the early 1980s. In 1982, the children’s collection was moved to a separate Children’s Room at street level.
In 1991, public and private funds were obtained for a major renovation and expansion of the Chinatown Branch Library. The branch was seismically retrofitted and expanded to twice its original size. During the 1994-1996 rebuilding period, Chinatown Branch was relocated to a temporary site at 445 Grant Avenue.
The Grand Reopening of the Chinatown Branch Library was held on June 15, 1996.
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