Because I’ve done so much research for this website in the microforms room of this building at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, I was especially delighted to come across this article. It’s interesting to see the famous reading room totally empty of furniture.
After ten years of actual construction and an expenditure of upward of $9,000,000, New York’s new public library has been completed.
It is not to be opened for use until May of next year because the furniture has to be installed, and that cannot be done before the middle of April. But the last stroke of the builder’s hammer has already fallen. Bag and baggage, the building himself has been turned out, and at present the mechanical equipment of the structure, such as printing presses, type-setting machines, and book stacks are being installed.
But for the lack of furniture the building could be thrown open in a month.
Before the main branch of the New York Public Library was built, the entire block was occupied by the Croton Reservoir, a tall above-ground reservoir in the middle of the city. People could go for a stroll on top of the surrounding wall. The reservoir was torn down around 1900, and the library was built in its place.
In the article, a representative from the architectural firm which designed the building looks forward to today:
A century hence… the classic perfection herein attained by the artisans of the Hayden ateliers will have rendered this work, then softened with the passing of time, an antique that will be much appreciated.
He was specifically referring to a wood carving inside the building, but the same could have been said of the building itself. Unfortunately, the building has softened a bit too much with the passing of time, and has needed renovation. The interior restoration has already been finished, and the exterior renovation is currently underway. I assume it will be finished in time for the building’s centennial next year.
The main branch of the NYPL (now officially named the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
NEW YORK’S FINE NEW LIBRARY NEARLY COMPLETED: Will Be Ready Before the Contract Time, and Needs Only the Interior Furnishings (PDF)
From December 11, 1910
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