New York Public Library

New York Public Library

The library lions, Patience and Fortitude, are the most notable features at the steps of the library near Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.  The marble lions were created by Edward Clark Potter and carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. In the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia renamed the lions to inspire hope during an economic depression. Patience is at the south side of the steps and Fortitude is at the north. These lions are great for photo opportunities even if the library is closed.  A short walk away from Grand Central Station, the lions are the first thing you will see when approaching the library.  However, if you’re coming from Grand Central Station you won’t be admitted to the library with luggage.  Only shoulder bags are allowed in the building and those are searched by security at the entrance and exit.

New York Public Library

flickr image by danielarr

While group tours of the library must be scheduled ahead of time, you can go on self-guided walks.  Signs are displayed in areas where photography is not permitted, however most parts of the building can be photographed. Group tours and school visits are subject to a fee. 

The library offers an array of exhibitions throughout the year featuring art installations, paintings, sculptures, photography and literature displays.  Docent-led tours for the exhibitions are free, but are offered on certain times during the week.  Most of the exhibitions can be viewed just walking through the building.

The library is wheelchair accessible with a ramp at the 42nd Street entrance and there is a lift at the north end of the building.

Sights to see in the library are Astor Hall, McGraw Rotunda, Rose Reading Room, and the Gutenberg Bible.  Astor Hall is the main entrance way, constructed of white marble.  Best views of the hall can be viewed from the second floor.  This space can be rented out after hours for dinners, filming, photography sessions, wedding receptions and other events for a fee. 

The Gutenberg Bible on display is one of 48 copies left in the world.  180 copies were originally produced. The Lenox copy at the library was printed in the 1450s by Johann Gutenberg, the man responsible for the development of movable type printing in the West.  The Gutenberg Bible is believed to be the first printed book. 

The McGraw Rotunda contains four large murals that depict The Story of Recorded Word.  Once you walk up the stairs to this floor, this is a nice place to rest if entering right when the library opens. It tends to be quieter and there are benches in front of the murals.

The Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest and Adam R. Rose Main Reading Room are almost the length of two city blocks.  A view of the Empire State Building can be seen through one of the high windows, in addition to many other skyscrapers.   The North Hall of the room is a designated quiet zone, so it won’t be a good place for young children.  The South Hall contains public computers and a circulation desk where you can get a library card.  Be sure to review library card terms and conditions before applying for a card. 

There is also a gift shop featuring used books and other souvenirs on the main floor.

Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018-2788
United States of America

Date posted: 11th March, 2014

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