Constructed in 1912 at the location of the former St. Louis Louis Exposition and Music Hall, this grand library has served as the central branch of the public library system for over a century. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city and underwent a major renovation project that was completed in 2012. It was designed by one of the foremost architects of the day, Cass Gilbert, who designed other prominent buildings such as the Woolworth Building in New York City, and the Supreme Court in Washington D.C.
The city wanted a library that would rival those of the east coast. A letter was sent to philanthropist Andrew Carnegie Gilbert requesting one million dollars to fund the library's construction. Carnegie, however, stipulated that only half of the money could be used for the library; he believed that branches were more effective in bringing libraries to the masses. Not deterred, the city spent a million dollars on its own, rising the construction cost to $1.5 million. Gilbert considered the library to be one of more important buildings he designed. Interestingly, he responded to a letter asking him when he would finish the design and he replied by saying You can't draw plans for a million-dollar building in a few days. I am taking my time.)