The library at 725 Pelican Avenue first opened on 28 December 1907. At the time, New Orleans was the 12th largest city in the United States. With a population of just under 300,000 it was bigger than Detroit or Washington DC. Martin Behrman was mayor. Teddy Roosevelt was president.
The Algiers Branch, as it became known, was one of five libraries in New Orleans established with money from Andrew Carnegie. The others were the main library on Howard Avenue, the Napoleon and Royal branches, and several years later the Dryades branch. Of those, only Hubbell and Napoleon survive today.
African Americans were not allowed to use the Algiers Branch or any of the other neighborhood libraries except Dryades, which was intended as the city's "Negro branch". Andrew Carnegie had stipulated that libraries built with his money be available to all citizens. Like many cities, New Orleans sought to satisfy this rule by using additional Carnegie money to open a separate branch for black patrons. A second "Negro branch" was added after World War II, but even then black Algerines had to cross the Mississippi River to use a public library. This policy remained well into the 1950s.
Cita Dennis Hubbell Branch Library is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media