New York Public Library - New York City, NY
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Metro2
N 40° 45.176 W 073° 58.896
18T E 585968 N 4511829
Quick Description: The well-known main branch of the New York Public Library in Manhattan was built between 1897 and 1911 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and is a fine example of the Beaux-Arts school.
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 8/21/2013 4:41:07 PM
Waymark Code: WMHX01
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 23

Long Description:
Officially opened May 23, 1911, it took 15 years to build this impressive library and cost $9 Million. President William Howard Taft officiated at the ceremony along with New York Governor Dix and Mayor William Jay Gaynor. The architects are John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings, usually just referred to as Carrère and Hastings. See the Wikipedia article about them along with a photo of the Library under construction in 1908 at (visit link)

Wikipedia (visit link) adds:

"Marble on the library building is about three feet thick, and the building is Vermont marble and brick all the way through. The exterior is 20,000 blocks of stone, each one numbered in preparation for a renovation announced in 2007. It stretches 390 feet along Fifth Avenue.

Two stone lions (made of Tennessee marble) lie at either side of the stairway to the entrance. The famous pair guarding the entrance were sculpted by Edward Clark Potter. Their original names, "Leo Astor" and "Leo Lenox" (in honor of the library's founders) were transformed into Lord Astor and Lady Lenox (although both lions are male), and in the 1930s they were nicknamed "Patience" and "Fortitude" by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who chose the names because he felt that the citizens of New York would need to possess these qualities to see themselves through the Great Depression. Patience is on the south side (the left as one faces the main entrance) and Fortitude on the north.

Two bronze flagpole bases, sculpted by Raffaele Menconi to a sketch by Thomas Hastings (1912) and cast at Tiffany Studios exemplify the attention to detail in the structure's fittingsBefore the end pavilions are flagpoles, whose sculpted bronze bases designed by Thomas Hastings in 1912 were realized by the sculptor Raffaele Menconi, who often worked closely with New York architects of the Beaux-Arts generation and had a deft command of the 16th-century Italian Mannerist classical idiom that was required by Hasting's design. The bronzes were cast at Tiffany Studios in Long Island City. They were rededicated to New York's former Reform mayor, John Purroy Mitchell.


The New York Public Library main building during late stage construction in 1908. Lion statues not yet installed at the entrance.The consolidation of several libraries into the New York Public Library in 1901, along with the large Tilden bequest and the Carnegie donation, allowed for the creation of an enormous library system befitting the nation's largest city, but the founders also wanted an imposing main branch. A prominent, central site for it was available at the two-block section of Fifth avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, then occupied by the Croton Reservoir, which was obsolete and no longer needed. Dr. John Shaw Billings who was named first director of the New York Public Library seized the opportunity. He knew exactly what he wanted there. His design for the new library became the basis of the landmark building that became the central Research Library (now known as the Humanities and Social Science Library) on Fifth Avenue.

Billings's plan called for a huge reading room on top of seven floors of bookstacks combined with the fastest system for getting books into the hands of those who requested to read them. Following a competition among the city's most famous architects, the relatively unknown firm of Carrère and Hastings was selected to design and construct the new library. The result, regarded as the apex of Beaux-Arts design, was the largest marble structure up to that time in the United States. The cornerstone was laid in May 1902.

Work progressed slowly but steadily on the Library which eventually cost $9 million to build. During the summer of 1905, huge columns were put into place and work on the roof was begun. By the end of 1906, the roof was finished and the designers commenced five years of interior work. In 1910, 75 miles of shelves were installed to house the collections that were set to make their home there, with plenty of space left for future acquisitions. It took a whole year to move and install the books that were in the Astor and Lenox libraries.

On May 23, 1911, the main branch of the New York Public Library was officially opened. The ceremony was presided over by President William Howard Taft and was attended by Governor John Alden Dix and Mayor William Jay Gaynor.

The following day... May 24, the public was invited. The response was sensational. Tens of thousands thronged to the Library's "jewel in the crown." The opening day collection consisted of more than 1,000,000 volumes. The New York Public Library instantly became one of the nation's largest libraries and a vital part of the intellectual life of America. True to Dr. Billings' plan, library records for that day show that one of the very first items called for was N. I. Grot's Nravstvennye idealy nashego vremeni ("Ethical Ideas of Our Time") a study of Friedrich Nietzsche and Leo Tolstoy. The reader filed his slip at 9:08 a.m. and received his book just six minutes later.

A video highlighting the map collection of NYPLOver the decades, the research collection grew until, by the 1970s, it was clear that eventually the collection would outgrow the existing structure. So it was decided to make the library bigger by burrowing underground toward Bryant Park. In the 1980s the central research library added more than 125,000 square feet (11,600 m2) of space and literally miles of bookshelf space to its already vast storage capacity to make room for future acquisitions. This expansion required a major construction project in which Bryant Park, directly west of the library, was closed to the public and excavated. The new library facilities were built below ground level. The park was then restored on top of the underground facilities and re-opened to the public."
City, State or City, Country: New York City, NY

Year Built: 1897–1911

Architect: Carrère and Hastings

Webpage from or other approved listing: [Web Link]

Other website with more information about building: [Web Link]

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