Between 5th Avenue and 42nd Street there is one of the most important and representative historic buildings in New York: the Schwarzman Building or more simply the New York Public Library. The quintessential symbol of culture made available for free to all, the building dates back to 1911 and, in spite of the other nearby skyscrapers, its charm has captivated visitors and New Yorkers for over a century.
If the Empire State Building, Central Park and Ground Zero are among the most visited places in Manhattan, the Public Library is certainly worth a visit. After passing the two lions that have always characterized the building, you will enter a reality out of time, in absolute silence which contrasts enormously with the noises of the metropolis and surrounded by the beauty of furnishings, frescoes and decorations where books, manuscripts, maps, films and ancient documents are available to anyone who wants to "live" them.
- A brief history of the New York Public Library
- Useful information: timetables, how to get there and guided tours
- Do you study in New York?
- What to see in the New York Public Library
- New York Public Library between Ghostbusters and other films
- Other curiosities
A brief history of the New York Public Library
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Astor Library located in the East Village and the Lenox Library between 5th Avenue and 70th Street (which even then housed the Gutenberg's first Bible in the New World) were reunited. Over the years, they were also joined by various other libraries in the city thanks to important supporters and financiers who believed in the project to make culture available for free through books and works available in one place or, in this specific case, in several places connected to each other. .
If the concept of a 'network between libraries' was already present in the early twentieth century, there still had to be a central office to represent the beauty and harmony of shared knowledge. The stunning Beaux Arts Schwarzman Building was inaugurated on May 23, 1911: it was the largest marble palace in the United States and the Rose Reading Room was there largest reading room in the world. The event was so important that United States President William Howard Taft also attended the ceremony.
Useful information: timetables, how to get there and guided tours
The library is located at 476 Fifth Avenue and has two entrances: if you enter from the main on Fifth Avenue you will have to climb the stairs and pass the two famous lions that guard the entrance, Patience and Fortitude, directly accessing the first floor, while if you enter from 42nd Street you will find yourself on the ground floor next to the children's division.
Entrance is free and open to scholars, visitors and tourists, but it is important to keep silence, to do photographs without flash and respect the many students and researchers who are in the library to study.
You can visit the entire building on your own, if you prefer a tour instead, the library arranges Free guided tours one hour with a teacher at 11:00 and 14:00 from Monday to Saturday, and at 14:00 on Sunday. The tour is free but limited to 25 people, so I suggest you arrive at the reception desk in the Astor Hall early. For groups of more than 10 people it is possible to book a private tour well in advance.
Fifth Avenue's New York Public Libray is open every day of the seventh with the following times:
- Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00
- Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 to 20:00
- Sunday from 13: 00 to 17: 00
In the months of July and August the library is closed on Sundays.
The best way to get to the library is to use the New York subway. There stop the closest is 5 Avenue - Bryant Park for line 7 or 42 Street - Bryant Park for lines B, D, F and M. A short distance away, less than 5 minutes on foot, there is also the Grand Central stop Terminal.
Do you study in New York?
If you are in New York to study, to consult or to borrow books, just ask for one library card temporary (by completing an online procedure or directly on site) which will allow you to access the interlibrary loan and view the more than 800.000 digitized documents available online.
What to see in the New York Public Library
The most famous and visited library in New York is housed within the 4 floors of the Schwarzman Building. You can access the ground floor from the entrance on 42nd Street. Here is the Children's library and inside you can admire the real plush puppets that inspired the creator of Winnie The Pooh. On the ground floor there is also the Forum Bartos room, open on request for events or exhibitions.
The main entrance from Fifth Avenue leads directly to the first floor. Among the rooms present I advise you not to miss the DeWitt Wallace periodicals room with its splendid chandeliers and murals, the astor room with its white marbles and stairways and the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal reading room: Here are over 10.000 maps, one of the largest public collections in the world.
Al second floor there are some interesting reading rooms, but it is the third floor to amaze those who visit the building for the first time: the Rose main reading room it is huge, bright and of a unique charm. In addition, to reach it you will cross the Round McGraw with murals and decorations worthy of one of the European royal palaces.
New York Public Library between Ghostbusters and other films
The New York Public Library is also known for having served as the set for numerous Hollywood movies and hit TV series such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Sex and the City. But perhaps the scenes that have remained most impressed in the collective imagination are those related to one of the cult films par excellence of the eighties such as Ghostbusters.
After an opening scene on the two famous lions on the sides of the staircase, we follow the ghost-catchers inside the building to make the first real close encounter with a ghost that wanders in the meanders of the library.
Although we all identify it with its headquarters on 5th Avenue, in reality the New York Public Library is a network of 88 different locations scattered across the main districts of the city. With over 53 million works of different formats, the New York Public Library is the second largest library of the United States after the Library of Congress in Washington and is the third largest in the world.
- i two lions they have guarded the entrance to the building since its inauguration in 1911, but their names have changed several times. Originally called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, in the XNUMXs they took the names Patience and Fortitude as a symbol of the strength of New Yorkers in the face of the Great Depression. The lions were designed by Edward Clark Potter and sculpted by the Piccirilli Brothers, Italian emigrants from Massa Carrara.
- Each year the library organizes more than 93.000 between courses, conferences and events that are completely free and open to access. From how to make a blanket (the famous American quilt) to learning Photoshop, from genealogy studies to English lessons for foreigners, the list of courses is mind blowing.
Once out of the New York Public Library, don't miss a visit to Bryant Park, the park behind it and the main attractions of Midtown Manhattan.