Best of America

There’s a Giant 25-Foot-Tall Bookshelf in the Middle of Kansas City

What do you do when you've got a brand-new parking garage right by your public library? Make it into a massive bookshelf, of course.

spinesPhoto by David Lee King http://www.davidleeking.com

Try to remember the biggest book you’ve ever seen. Is it a Harry Potter book? A Bible or a dictionary? A massive textbook that you bemoaned carrying around in your bag? (Here’s how to downsize a heavy bag.)

Well, all those big books pale in comparison to the 22 enormous volumes that you can see in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The city’s downtown area boasts a massive bookshelf full of books nearly as tall as buildings. You’ll feel like you stepped into Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (one of our favorite family movies).

Full disclaimer: you can’t read these giant books, but they do provide the gateway to a place where you can read to your heart’s content. The “books” are actually a wall of mylar book spines surrounding the Kansas City Public Library’s parking garage. In 2004, the city built new parking to accommodate the growing hustle and bustle of downtown. The city reached out to community members for their input on ways to make the garage more aesthetically pleasing, and the idea of a massive bookshelf came to be. Kansas City residents offered suggestions on which books should make the cut, and the city council made the final selection in March of 2004. The book spines have been standing tall—25 feet tall, to be precise—ever since.

spines-from-abovePhoto by David Lee King http://www.davidleeking.com

The spines are each nine feet wide, and beautifully designed in different colors and patterns. Many of the books focus on the history of Kansas City and Missouri, including Kansas City, Missouri: An Architectural History and Journeys Through Time: a Young Traveler’s Guide to Kansas City History. Others, however, are literary classics for readers of all ages: Goodnight Moon, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Lord of the Rings, and To Kill a Mockingbird are just some of the titles that literary buffs will recognize. (Here’s the surprising reason To Kill a Mockingbird is so famous!) Since trees and shrubs block some of the spines from view, Interesting Engineering recommends visiting in the winter to get the maximum literary effect.

Take a look at our favorite libraries throughout the United States.

 

[Sources: Atlas Obscura, kclibrary.org, Interesting Engineering. Photos by David Lee King: http://www.davidleeking.com]

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.