The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the world’s great libraries, with nearly 53 million items and 92 locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. It is a nonprofit organization that is privately and publicly funded and independently managed. It offers research libraries, branch libraries, and online resources for the public’s diverse needs and interests.
This article will take you on a tour of the NYPL’s main building and other locations, showing you their architectural features, how to reach there, and tips to visit the NYPL. Whether you want to study, read, learn, or enjoy, the NYPL has something for you.
Architecture of The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library (NYPL) has nearly 53 million items and 92 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. It offers research libraries, branch libraries, and online resources for the public. This section focuses on the architecture of the NYPL’s main building, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
The main building is a marble-clad structure in the Beaux-Arts style, designed by Carrère and Hastings. It was built from 1899 to 1911 and occupies two blocks along Fifth Avenue. The exterior features a terrace with lion statues, named Patience and Fortitude, by Edward Clark Potter. The facade has sculptures by Paul Wayland Bartlett that represent fields of knowledge. The names of the libraries that merged to form the NYPL are also inscribed on the facade: Astor, Lenox, and Tilden.
The interior has rich details and elegant spaces. The main entrance leads to Astor Hall, a lobby with a vaulted ceiling and marble columns. The hall is named after John Jacob Astor, one of the founders of the Astor Library. The hall also hosts events and exhibitions. From Astor Hall, visitors can access various rooms and collections, such as the Rose Main Reading Room, the Map Division, the Children’s Center, and the Special Collections.
The Rose Main Reading Room is a long and narrow room with a coffered ceiling with murals by James Wall Finn. The room has large windows and wooden furniture. It can accommodate up to 500 people.
The Map Division has over 435,000 maps and 20,000 books and atlases that cover all regions and periods of history. It has rare and valuable maps, such as the first map printed in North America, and digital maps that can be accessed online or through kiosks.
The Children’s Center has over 40,000 books for children, including classics like Winnie-the-Pooh and Harry Potter. It also has toys, games, computers, and audiovisual materials. It hosts programs and events for children. One of the highlights is the original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals that belonged to A.A. Milne’s son Christopher Robin.
The Special Collections include manuscripts, rare books, photographs, prints, posters, music scores, and ephemera that document the history and culture of New York and the world. They are open to researchers by appointment only.
Hours of Operation of The New York Public Library
The table below shows the hours of operation of some of the NYPL’s main locations, as of September 2023. The hours may change due to holidays, events, or emergencies. You can check the NYPL’s website or app for any updates or announcements regarding the hours of each location. You can also call the library at 917-ASK-NYPL (917-275-6975) for more information.
|Stephen A. Schwarzman Building||Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018||Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.|
|Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture||515 Malcolm X Boulevard (135th St and Malcolm X Blvd), New York, NY 10037||Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday: Closed|
|Library for the Performing Arts||40 Lincoln Center Plaza (entrance at 111 Amsterdam between 64th and 65th), New York, NY 10023||Monday to Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: Closed|
|Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL)||Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, New York, NY 10018||Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday: Closed|
|Bronx Library Center||310 East Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, NY 10458||Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday: Closed|
|Battery Park City Library||175 North End Avenue, New York, NY 10282||Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday: Closed Sunday: Closed|
How to Reach The New York Public Library
The library has a beautiful entrance on Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 40th streets. You can also use the accessible entrances on 40th Street and 42nd Street if you need them. Here are some ways to reach the NYPL:
By Subway: You can take Line 7 to the Fifth Avenue/Bryant Park station or Lines B, D, F, or M to the 42nd Street/Bryant Park station. Both stations are very close to the library.
By Bus: Several bus routes stop near the library, such as the M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32 and M42. You can check the bus schedules and maps on the [MTA website].
By Car: There is no parking lot at the library, but you can find some parking garages in the area. You can also use the [ParkWhiz app] to book a spot in advance.
On Foot: If you enjoy walking, you can start from Madison Avenue and 41st Street and follow the signs to the library. You will see many literary landmarks along the way.
Tips to Visit the NYPL
If you are planning to visit the New York Public Library, you might want to follow these tips to make the most of your experience:
- Before you go, make sure to check the library’s opening hours and holiday closings. The library is usually open from 10:30 AM to 6 PM on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; from 10:30 AM to 8 PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and from 1 PM to 5 PM on Sundays.
- Begin your visit at the Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the library’s history, collections, maps, and other features through digital and tactile displays. You can also store your coats and bags there and sign up for in-person tours.
- Explore the library’s history, architecture, and services at your own pace with a self-guided audio tour or the Bloomberg Connects app. You can also join one of the free guided tours for a deeper insight: the Building Tour or the Exhibition Tour.
- Don’t miss the chance to see some of the most amazing items from the library’s collections at the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures. You can marvel at the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg Bible, and manuscripts by Charles Dickens, Maya Angelou, and more.
- Relax and enjoy the beauty and calmness of the library’s reading rooms, especially the stunning Rose Main Reading Room, which is one of the largest uncolumned interior spaces in the world. You can also use free Wi-Fi, computers, printers, scanners, and other resources at the library.
- Stop by the library’s gift shop for some souvenirs, books, stationery, and more. You can also show your support for the library by becoming a member or making a donation.
- Discover the nearby Bryant Park, which is right next to the library and offers a green oasis in the heart of Manhattan. You can find a carousel, a fountain, a lawn, a winter village, and various events and activities throughout the year.
The New York Public Library is a remarkable institution that offers a wealth of resources, services, and experiences to its visitors. Whether you are interested in its history, architecture, collections, or exhibitions, you will find something to inspire and delight you at the library.
To plan your visit, you should check the library’s opening hours and holiday closings, start your journey at the Visitor Center, take a tour or use the app to explore the library, see the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures, enjoy the reading rooms and other facilities, visit the gift shop and support the library, and discover the nearby Bryant Park. The New York Public Library is a must-see destination for anyone who loves books, culture, and learning.
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