Atlanta Public Library

“Atlanta Public Library,” The #TUOR Project, Eric Solomon and Dave Hayward, 2021.

Site Narrative

The Central Library of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library system is currently located at the intersection of Forsyth Street SW and Carnegie Way NW (1 Margaret Mitchell Square) in downtown Atlanta. The current structure was designed by famed architect Marcel Breuer in the Brutalist school and opened to the public in 1980. As of 2021, the Central Library is undergoing a controversial multi-million dollar renovation. A phased re-opening began May 1, 2021, and the Library officially debuted its redesign in October 2021. As Gayle Holloman, Executive Director of the Library system, told WABE, “I just love being able to sit there and look out that window. It’s just phenomenal. We were not able to do that before. And so it brings people into the library and brings the library out.”

From 1902 until 1977, the Carnegie Library building served as Atlanta’s Public Library on the site of today’s Central Library. Following renovations to the structure, it was renamed the Atlanta Public Library in 1950.

It was in the Atlanta Public Library where a September 1953 raid occurred in the men’s restroom. Twenty men were arrested for violating the state’s sodomy statutes and their names and addresses published in the AJC. All but one lost their jobs.

As historian John Howard writes, “the Atlanta Public Library Perversion Case of 1953 represented just one of the innumerable police crackdowns on homosexual activity in localities throughout the nation during the 1950s” (113).


Central Library History.

Central Library Renovations Update.

Howard, John. “The Library, the Park, and the Pervert: Public Space and Homosexual Encounter in Post-World War II Atlanta.” In Carryin’ On in the Lesbian and Gay South, edited by John Howard, 107–131. New York: NYU Press, 1997.

Moffatt, Emil. “Fulton County re-opens downtown library after $50 million renovation project.” WABE, October 4, 2021.

Carnegie Library Vintage Postcard, November 1, 1926. Uploaded to Flickr by Jasperdo, September 10, 2009. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

“For homosexual men in Atlanta, monitoring led to persecution, and the nascent gay culture suffered setback after setback as an already public sexuality clashed with an increasingly public policing of sexuality.”

John Howard, “The Library, the Park, and the Pervert”