History of the NY Public Library SystemRapidly growing on an unprecedented scale, New York City quickly became a major cultural and academic hub during the 19th century. As wealthy philanthropists, John Jacob Astor and James Lenox passionately established the city's first major libraries. By the end of the century, financial trouble threatened to close the institutions that were funded by these generous, powerful men. In 1895, the Astor and Lenox libraries were merged into a single entity that eventually became known as the New York Public Library. Samuel J. Tilden, who proudly served as a governor of the state of New York, set aside a significant sum of money specifically in his estate. Several years after his death, the money was used to set up NYC's first truly public library. At the beginning of the 20th century, a contest was launched to find the best architectural firm to design a grand and impressive building to serve as the entity's first permanent home. After nearly 16 years of construction, the New York Public Library opened in a stunning Beaux-Arts landmark. President Taft was among the many guests in the opening ceremony of the library. Today, visitors can still embrace the beautiful facade and interior design of this iconic building. Throughout the years, the flagship unit has expanded into virtually all major neighbourhoods in NYC. For generations, the library has been educating local residents and enchanting visitors from all over the world. Today, in addition to the main library, there are over 85 other branches located throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island along with 4 research centers.
CollectionThis main location on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue has an expansive layout that rivals that of some of America's greatest museums. Murals, intricate carvings and other decorative installations make the building a massive work of art in its own right. The Rose Main Reading Room is perhaps one of the most popular areas to quietly read some literature in an elegant setting that's inspired by traditional European design. Rare publications that are centuries old are among the institution's most precious items. For example, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible is one of the library's oldest and most valuable possessions. Such priceless manuscripts and printed materials are usually accessible to scholars and other professionals in academia. Nevertheless, the public is more than welcome to look at well-preserved books and other resources that are securely kept behind glass casings and other museum-like containers. More than a half million photographs and other printed media publications make up the library's public collection. A digital portal of millions of electronic books and other multimedia files are also accessible through the library's network.
Visiting New York Public Library on 42nd StreetThis main branch of the New York Public Library is nested in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. The primary entrance to the library faces the iconic Fifth Avenue that's lined with soaring skyscrapers and trendy upscale shops. On the western flank of the museum is Bryant Park, which is one of NYC's most popular green spaces. You can easily get to the library by taking a subway ride to the 42 Street-Bryant Park Station or 5 Avenue Station. Additionally, the enormous Grand Central Terminal is within walking distance of the library. Served by several subway lines and more than 20 commuter rail lines, Grand Central Terminal is one of the most important transit hubs in NYC. Additionally, there are more than a dozen Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus routes that navigate the area surrounding the library.
Location: 476 5th Avenue, New York, NY, 10018 with with branches city wide
Click here to visit New York Public Library official website.
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