Photo by Massimo Borchi/age fotostock
New York Public Library
The main branch of the New York Public Library is one of the country’s grandest Beaux Arts buildings, a temple to learning on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets. At the end of the 19th century, John Bigelow, who oversaw the Tilden Trust, decided that as New York was becoming a global financial capital, it required a grand public library. When the Astor and Lenox libraries faced financial difficulties, he convinced them to merge and, with the Tilden Trust, underwrite the library that now stands next to Bryant Park. The firm of Carrère and Hastings was entrusted with the design, and construction began in 1902 on the building that would be the largest marble structure built up to that time in the United States. The elegant main reading room with its soaring carved-wood ceilings is the highlight of its interiors. The library hosts temporary exhibitions related to literary and cultural topics that draw on its extensive collection of books and other printed materials. The two beloved lions in Tennessee marble—Patience and Fortitude—have stood at the entrance to the library since it opened in 1911 and were created by sculptor Edward Clark Potter.
By John Newton, AFAR Ambassador
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
New York's Iconic Library
The New York Public Library's iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building has stood proudly along 5th Ave. since 1911. Housing 75 miles of shelves, the building houses the NYPL's humanities and social sciences research collection, as well as a circulating children’s collection. Behind this iconic building is one of the city's best revitalized green spaces: Bryant Park. A visit to the library and the park is a highlight to Midtown Manhattan a step away from the usual hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. Tip: Check the website before you visit - the building is closed semi-regularly for special events.
By Christina Saull, AFAR Ambassador
Old-World Literary Gem
The flagship branch of the New York Public Library is one of the gems of New York City architecture. Located next to Bryant Park at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, the Beaux Art building opened in 1911 and was the largest marble structure of its kind. Each year, over 16 million scholars, researchers, writers, readers and tourists visit the library, which is currently finalizing plans for a $300 million renovation. The Rose Main Reading Room is worth a trip to midtown Manhattan. Two blocks long, it features 52-foot high ceilings, Old World murals, burnished bronze lamps and - now for modern times - free Internet through the Library's Wi-Fi. Sit here for an hour or two and get lost in a book (maybe Edith Wharton to get in the mood of turn-of-the-century New York). Treat yourself to a dose of tranquility amidst the chaos of midtown! Free one-hour building tours take visitors through the history and architecture of the Library and its vast collection.
By Charissa Fay, AFAR Ambassador
An Oasis in the City
The New York Public Library is an oasis in the city where visitors can collect themselves in peace and quiet. The Rose Main Reading Room and Map Room are my two favorite rooms in the library – both have certain grandeur and specialness. I love to share it as a recommendation because traveling in the city can be hard on people, and the library is a special place to experience. One thing many people don’t know is that the marble lions that stand outside of the library have names – Patience and Fortitude – representing the spirit of the collection.
By Dennis Spafford, Collection Hotel Staff
Booze and Books
For one night each year, the main branch of the New York Public Library -- the iconic neoclassical building on Fifth Ave. and 42nd St. -- becomes one massive bar. Welcome to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a bibulous four-day event that is kicked off by a gala at the library. This year over 3,000 thirsty attendees turned up to sip every kind of cocktail imaginable.
By David Farley, AFAR Contributor
NY Public Library
one of the best not-so-hidden treasures
By Sharon In
NY Public Library
Visiting the library is one of the best free things to do in the city. Various works of art line the halls and the ceiling of the reading room is beautiful. Also, Celebrating 100 Years is a fantastic exhibition on display until March 4, 2012. Everything from cuneiform tablets to Bob Dylan's handwritten lyrics are on display. Did I mention it's FREE!!
Log on at the New York Public Library
Sure, there are a million places in Manhattan with free wifi. But I don't think there's anywhere more elegant to check your email than the library, under its gilded, Beaux Arts ceilings. If you want to spend some serious time online but you'd rather not slurp down a succession of lattes, head for the Rose Reading Room. Best part? You don't have to listen to mindless coffee shop chatter...
By Emma John, AFAR Local Expert
Read in a Temple to Knowledge
The NYPL has many branches spread out over the five boroughs of New York City but it's the Stephen A. Schwarzman building that is my favorite. The Beaux Arts building is like a temple to knowledge and reading. It's Rose Room is one of the most famous portions of the structure but the great halls on the second floor are lovely for a stroll in cool air conditioning in the hot summer months and the gift shop on the same floor is a really excellent place to find smart, funny gifts and unique books for those you love. It's a destination in which you could while away an entire day. Or, a few hours. Either way, a trip to the main branch has never disappointed me.
By Kirsten Alana, AFAR Local Expert
A Stolen Moment at the New York Public Library
As one of the premier classic icons of New York, the New York Public Library doesn't disappoint. Even as a visitor,I highly recommend bringing in a book and reading in their reading room. It's an unforgettable experience and more fun when you have a purpose to be there. (Plus, free wi-fi!) As I was leaving the library, I caught this intimate moment in one of the many nooks and crannies of this architectural marvel.
By Natalie Taylor, AFAR Local Expert
NYC's Booziest Gala: The Manhattan Cocktail Classic
Every May, America's best bartenders convene in Manhattan to learn, network and party, of course. For its annual gala, the iconic New York Public Library is transformed into a speakeasy, featuring reps from some of alcohol's best brands. On four floors, over 25,000 drinks are served while a brass band plays on the main floor. Really inventive snacks are served as well including boozy popsicles. For four days, thereafter, seminars and parties take place mainly at the Andaz Hotel and at some of the best bars in Manhattan. The gala was one of the best parties I have ever attended (and if you can afford the earlybird $200 price tag, it's certainly worth it) and a chance to get all dressed up with somewhere to go!
By Natalie Taylor, AFAR Local Expert
New York Public Library Main Branch
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building—otherwise known as the city’s famous, lion-statue-flanked main library—is one of the city’s most splendid public spaces. The gorgeous Rose Main Reading Room, whose frescoed ceiling, enormous arched windows and hushed stacks have featured in films ranging from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Ghostbusters, inspires awe; to explore the building in more depth, join one of the guided library tours offered free each day. Afterward, enjoy a stroll or a takeout coffee in the adjacent and lovely tree-shaded Bryant Park.
476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018, USA
Sun 1pm - 5pm
Mon, Thur - Sat 10am - 5:45pm
Tue, Wed 10am - 7:45pm