Late on the night of April 27, 1993, when I arrived in San Diego, Mission Bay Park is where I headed. It’s where I spent my first night, sleeping on the beach.
When I got up the next morning, I went to the KOA Kampground in Chula Vista to shower. After that I headed to the San Diego Public Library, intent on making a copy of an area map. Fifty cents for copies of ten pages would be much cheaper than $1.95 at a bookstore.
This is what San Diego’s main library looked like then and, as of yesterday, still looks like:
It’s a non-descript building in a non-descript area of town. San Diego has been trying for a couple of decades to build a new central library. Building a new library even made the ballot a few years ago. The citizens voted on it. The citizens voted no. Mainly because the city’s annual budget was about $65 million in the red and the city’s pension fund was underfunded by about $2 billion.
Enter city government.
About a year after the citizens voted no, the city council voted yes. Construction began. Everyone wondered where the money was coming from. The citizens still wonder. It’s never been explained.
Here is an artist’s rendering of what the city wanted to build:
Are we there yet? No, but we’re getting close. The new central library is scheduled to open next summer. Here are some pictures of where construction stands as of yesterday:
The big dome is going to stand among the largest in the world:
Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans — 679 feet
St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy — 194 feet
Duomo in Florence, Italy — 149 feet
San Diego Central Library — 143 feet
Pantheon in Rome, Italy — 142 feet
Mt. Palomar Observatory in San Diego County — 136 feet
United States Capitol in Washington D.C. — 135 feet
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey — 103 feet
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England — 101 feet
The library will have nine or ten floors (sources disagree), almost 300,000 square feet, 1.3 million volumes, and 400 computer terminals. Current projected completion cost is almost $185 million; original construction estimates were $135 million. Keep in mind that the citizens voted no because the construction estimate was too high.
If you build it….
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