The Main Research Library
The New York Library's Main Research Library at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street is a classic Beaux-Arts edifice, opened in 1911. Designed by the architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings, it contains over 75 miles of open shelves. The building is particularly known for its main reading room - Room 315. This cavernous room is 78 feet by 297 feet and has 52-foot ceilings. Many a student, writer, and researcher have taken advantage of this free resource. In fact, during the Great Depression, many out-of-work New Yorkers gave themselves the equivalent of a college education by accessing the materials available from the main reading room.
Another highlight of the Main Research Library, and today the logo of the library system, are the two lions that sit on either side of the main entrance. Created of pink Tennessee marble by Edward Clark Potter, they have come to symbolize the library. The lions have had many nicknames over the years. New Yorkers dubbed them "Astor" and "Lennox" for the two library benefactors, when the library opened. Later, Mayor LaGuardia called them "Patience" and "Fortitude" during the Depression. Today, they are often referred to as "Uptown" and "Downtown."
The Main Research Library's extensive collection rivals that of the British Museum in London, the Bibliotheque National in Paris, and Washington's Library of Congress. It includes several important manuscripts, two of which are a Gutenberg Bible and Thomas Jefferson's copy of the "Declaration of Independence."