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Exploring The Dallas Central Library You Probably Haven't Been To.

By Jeremy on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Downtown, right by City Hall, is the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library.

The first central library was built in 1901, in large part to funding from Andrew Carnegie. In '82, they constructed the current version, all eight floors of it, and named it after the former mayor.

What makes the central library downtown so much better than the neighborhood branches? Well, aside from its sheer size, there happens to be a bunch of interesting stuff going on there at all times.

After conducting some extensive research for our 50 Free Dates article, we found out a lot more about this hidden gem downtown. For instance: Did you know there's an art gallery in there? And an exhibit of high school yearbooks featuring famous Dallas residents? That one in particular is super cool.

More important, though, is that the library houses one of the few remaining original copies of the Declaration of Independence. It's the only copy of the Declaration in the Western United States, right here in Dallas, and it's stored up on the seventh floor, with as little fanfare as possible. It's kept in a special display area at the end of a hallway, with some pretty poor wayfinding signage.

When I walked in, it was empty. In fact, there isn't anyone anywhere near it. It was a bit spooky. It felt like being in some forgotten section of the library. One that they at least remembered to dust, though, which was nice.

Also of note on that same floor: a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio that was printed not long after his death in 1623.

For these two items alone, the central library is worth a vist.

There's so much more, though. There's lots of great art displayed throughout the building, and plenty of Dallas history to absorb. We spent a little over an hour in there, and didn't even come close to doing everything.

We expect to head back there soon. We recommend you do the same.

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50 Free Dates