The bad news is that the reason the roof of the main library that way in the early 1970's was because when the civic center and library were built, it reduced the amount of park space available at Lincoln Park.
In my research on the history of Long Beach I found a letter to the editor that outlines the concerns of some residents when Lincoln Park was taken for a civic center and main library. Ironically the writer was correct but no one listened:
The architect of the new main library is quoted as partially justifying the building's design on the basis of the thought that, "it provides more area for landscaping than the park it replaces."
Such a statement is surprising from a man who is in the business of designing things for people's use. Whether or not there is more landscaping than existed in old Lincoln Park is of no interest to those who realize that it takes more than landscaping to make a park.
Old Lincoln Park was the visible center of downtown, the social center for a large
number of citizens, and the 90-year-old repository for gigantic trees, donated benches, statues, cannons and outdoor markets.
It was accessible to everyone from the street, its users had full view of the activities of the street and in the park, it was reasonably safe because of its visibility from the street, and it had large chunks of lawn for snoozing or ball playing and lots of benches arranged for conversation or idling.
The new landscaping on the roof of the library is not a park; it has lost the vital connection with the street and will never be the center of anything except perhaps
crime. Access is by long flights of stairs or the crowded elevator in the City Hall lobby.
The seats are not arranged for comfortable conversation and face in, with no possible view of the active street nor the ocean. The little patches, of grass on the raised steps are of no use for any kind of activity, and there is no view into the area day or night from the street or plaza, a prime incentive for crime.
Finally, I'm sure the new landscaping which replaces the old park costs many times as much to maintain as did the old park.The city and its architects have, in the name of progress, destroyed Lincoln Park,one of the few things that was successful in the downtown and replaced it with plentiful landscaping whose only virtue is its stunning appearance from the upper floors of the City Hall. FRANK COLE, Long Beach