Manchester Central Library was designed by E. Vincent Harris and was opened on 17 July 1934.
In 1926 a competition was held for the design of a new library and Town Hall Extension and the winner was an architect called E. Vincent Harris.
Harris's work has been described by historian John Archer as revealing 'a creative and original modern spirit'. He worked very closely with Stanley Jast and Charles Nowell, the Chief Librarians, on the unusual design of the building, which was strongly influenced by visits to American libraries.
Building started in 1930 and took four years. Locals were intrigued by the curious building they could see taking shape:
"When it was being built the public were very intrigued. It was called various names, for example the Corporation Wedding Cake and the St. Peter's Square Gasometer. Under the portico became a favourite trysting place. The shape of the building was its best advertisement and it was never necessary to put a notice 'Public Library' on the outside." (Leslie Smyth, former member of staff)
Central Library under construction 12/3/1932
On July 17th 1934, Central Library was officially opened by King George V. Izzy Wallman, a former member of staff, remembers,
Opening of Manchester Central Library (1934): Amateur record of King George V opening Manchester's Central Library.“The Library in Piccadilly closed on Saturday 14th July, and the new building opened to the public at 9am the following Monday. We were working right up to the last minute. I remember that on the Sunday evening I was busy in the Technical Library with a penknife removing the brown wrapping paper from the brass handrails on the staircase leading down to the book stack. We closed only for the day of the official opening, Tuesday 17th July. It was a beautiful sunny day and the streets around St. Peter's Square were lined with thousands of people. Staff were issued with passes so that we would get through the crowds to a specifically cordoned off area beside the new Central Library where we could see the King lay the foundation stone of the Town Hall Extension before he opened the library."