New York Public Library, New York City

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 58 Reviews

Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street (212) 930-0830

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  • D walks in wonder
    D walks in wonder
    by richiecdisc
  • Neoclassical façade
    Neoclassical façade
    by MM212
  • REading Room Ceiling
    REading Room Ceiling
    by TexasDave
  • TexasDave's Profile Photo

    Impressive Library

    by TexasDave Written Feb 11, 2014
    5th Ave. Entrance
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    The Library occupies 2 city blocks and the area originally was a stone-walled water reservoir, the stones from the walls were used for the foundation of the library. The majority of the books, periodicals, and maps it holds are kept in stacks which comprise several levels of basement,
    Free 1 hour tours are given twice daily. Be sure to see the great reading room which displays the Library's Gutenberg Bible.

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    A good place to keep cool on these steamy days

    by etfromnc Updated Nov 22, 2013
    Stephen A. Schwarzman Bldg (Main Public Library)

    Just above the loudest point in the city – the Bryant Park subway station, which hits 93 decibels, greater than nearby Times Square’s mark of 76 – you can find the New York Public Library, one of the city’s most beloved spots of peace, quiet, and beauty. This 102-year-old library is famed for its upstairs reading room, the size of two city blocks and capable of seating 500 people, which I think that I loved so much because it reminded me of the smaller, but otherwise very similar Reading Room at the main Duke University Library. Both are lit by bronze Carre-and-Hastings lamps. Get a spot at one of the long wood tables with bronze lamps, read a bit, then look at the skyscrapers through the windows below to see the reflection of what looks like ceiling murals of cloud-filled skies. If even the Reading Room is too busy and noisy for you, an even quieter alternative is the more modest, nearly as majestic DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room, a left turn from the first-floor main entrance (bypassing the steep granite stairs).

    Aka the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the New York Public Library is a grand Beaux-Arts icon east of Times Square. Fronted by marble lions named ‘Patience’ and ‘Fortitude,’ walking through the entrance can be a real jaw-dropper. There are exhibits, too, including a copy of the original Declaration of Independence, a Gutenburg Bible, plus 431,000 old maps. There are free tours at 11am and 2pm Monday to Saturday and 2pm Sundays (closed Sunday in summer).

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    New York Public Library

    by antistar Written Jun 3, 2013
    Rose Main Reading Room, New York Public Library
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    With over 50 million books the New York Public library is the second biggest library in the US, and the third largest in the world. Only the Library of Congress in Washington and the British Library in London outrank it. In addition to just sheer size the library is housed in a wonderful neoclassical building that is made of solid Vermont marble and brick.

    It's huge, stretching well over a hundred meters down fifth avenue. It contains the world famous Rose Main Reading Room, also huge, lined with thousands of books, lit from over a dozen large arched windows, and from chandeliers hanging from the ornately decorated ceiling. There's also a map room that is so well stocked that it was used during World War 2 by the American military starved of information on foreign territory.

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    A quick walk through the Library

    by GrumpyDiver Written Mar 17, 2011

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    If they only had libraries like this everywhere else.

    Take a short walk through the New York Public Library (a stone's throw away from Times Square). You might recognize some of the rooms from movies..

    Certainly worth dropping in on and seeing!

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    Best Free Thing #3: The House where Pooh Lives

    by goodfish Updated Feb 27, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Reading Room, NY Public Library
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    This is one gorgeous building. The New York Public Library (Midtown - 5th Avenue) is a Beaux-Arts confection well worth a wander. Designed by architects Carrère & Hastings and built 1902-1911, it was financed through combined endowments from Samuel J. Tilden, John Jacob Astor and James Lenox and was, at that time, the largest marble structure ever constructed in the United States.
    Highlights include:

    • The Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam R. Rose Main Reading Room (third floor)

    • McGraw rotunda with WPA Project murals and ceiling by Edward Laning (third floor)

    • The REAL Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Tigger (ground floor, Children's Room)

    • A rare Gutenberg Bible (may or may not be on display)

    The library offers free tours and a bookshop - see the website for hours, details, floor plan and much more about the history. Click "Humanities and Social Sciences Library" for this particular branch, or just use my link. You'll be expected to pass through a security check to enter the library, exit the Reading Room, and to check large bags, umbrellas, etc.

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    Great Historical Tour of NY Public Library

    by krismsong Written Feb 18, 2011

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    Rose Reading Room
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    The librarian/docent led tour is really enriching. They are available for free twice daily. The architecture and history of the library is beautiful and interesting. The philosophy of making the library open to ALL is inspiring, and the depth of the library holdings is amazing. They have a Gutenberg bible on display as well as the original stuffed animals from Winnie the Pooh.

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    New York Public Library

    by richiecdisc Written May 24, 2010

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    the very impressive NYC library
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    Proving that some of the best things in life, even in New York City, are free was turning out to be easier than expected but it's one thing to find them outdoors and another to find some inside, especially on a cold winter's day. I can thank my wife for this one and it shouldn't have come as such a surprise as we had just a few months earlier been blown away by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Yes, we're talking about the New York City Public Library. While not quite as elaborate as its DC counterpart, it emanates New York City power, style, and class none-the-less. To put it in perspective, it is leagued with its Congressional counterpart, Boston Public Library, and Harvard and Yale's libraries as amongst the five most important libraries in the US. But we weren't here to actually do any research, we just wanted to soak in all its atmosphere, glance at its Lenox copy of the Gutenberg Bible, and imagine being able to use this incredible place on a regular basis. One more reason to want to live in NYC, right?

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    Surprise for the Art Lover

    by csordila Updated Feb 20, 2010

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    Milton in the Edna Barnes Salomon room
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    Hungarian visitors are likely looking for Mihaly Munkacsy’s oil on canvas painting, "Blind Milton dictating 'Paradise Lost' to his daughters" which can be found in the Edna Barnes Salomon room on the third floor gallery.
    The famous hungarian painter was rewarded with gold medal on the Exposition Universelle 1900 in Paris for this picture.
    Except some colors of the furnishings and in the youngest girl’s rosy cheek, this is so dark a painting, you can almost feel your own sight dimming as you take it in.

    I was surprised to encounter “Blind Milton” here again, knowing that it is on permanent exhibition at the Hungarian National Gallery in the Royal Palace-Budapest.
    As it turns out, there are two version of Munkácsy’s painting, the one in Budapest is the smaller of the two.
    If you are interested in cognition of some other masterworks of him, in the Metropolitan Museum you can do it, according to my knowledge at least three paintings are in the museum.

    Open Mon, Thurs-Sat 10am-6pm, Tues-Wed 11am-7:30pm, Closed on Sunday
    Admission free
    Free tours Monday to Saturday at 11am and 2pm

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    NY Public Library

    by apbeaches Written Jan 16, 2010

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    On May 23, 1911, the main branch of the New York Public Library was officially opened in a ceremony presided over by President William Howard Taft. The following day, the public was invited. 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.

    Two famous stone lions guarding the entrance were sculpted by Edward Clark Potter. They were originally named Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, in honor of the library's founders. These names were transformed into Lady Astor and Lord Lenox.

    The main reading room of the Research Library (Room 315) is a majestic 78 feet (23.8 m) wide by 297 feet long, with 52 feet high ceilings—lined with thousands of reference books on open shelves along the floor level and along the balcony; lit by massive windows and grand chandeliers; furnished with sturdy wood tables, comfortable chairs, and brass lamps. Today it is also equipped with computers with access to library collections and the Internet and docking facilities for laptops. Readers study books brought to them from the library's closed stacks. There are special rooms for notable authors and scholars, many of whom have done important research and writing at the Library. But the Library has always been about more than scholars, during the Great Depression, many ordinary people, out of work, used the Library to improve their lot in life.

    The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Over the decades, the library system added branch libraries, and the research collection expanded until, by the 1970s, it was clear the collection eventually would outgrow the existing structure. In the 1980s the central research library added more than 125,000 square feet 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 and the park was restored above it.

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    The New York Public Library

    by MM212 Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    One of the two lion sculptures - Oct 09
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    Established in 1895, the New York Public Library is one of the most important libraries in the United States. It has numerous locations around New York, but its main edifice is on Fifth Ave and 42nd St. It was built in the early 20th century, and inaugurated in 1911, in a Beaux-Arts style with classical inspirations designed by the architecture firm, Carrère & Hastings. At the time of its completion the New York Library was the largest marble building in the United States. Two large lion sculptures by the sculptor Edward Clark Potter flank the main entrance, nicknamed "Patience" and "Fortitude". The halls of the library are amazingly decorated with marble, carved wood and ceiling frescoes. Occasional interesting exhibitions take place within the library, but otherwise, it is worth visiting the interior simply to glance at its beautiful halls. And while you're visiting, do not miss Bryant Park, which is located behind the library building. With its giant plane trees and cafés set against the Beaux-Arts library building, the park is reminiscent of Paris. In summer months, open air concerts and movies are played at the park.

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    A Book Lover's Paradise

    by Jefie Updated Dec 14, 2007

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    Back in 1902, Dr. John Shaw Billings, the newly appointed director of the New York Public Library, became responsible for the construction of the Research Library on Fifth Avenue. His plans included a Beaux-Arts marble building that would feature an enormous reading room with high ceilings, plenty of natural lighting and chandeliers, comfortable chairs and massive wooden work tables. The Research Library finally opened on May 23, 1911.

    There are thousands of reference books available, and a system was designed to allow employees to retrieve the books quite rapidly. Nowadays, computers and laptop plugs have been added to the reading room, and although I’ll always be partial to the Boston Public Library’s reading room, this one was also quite impressive. I also enjoyed walking along the corridors where you can see special rooms that are dedicated to famous authors and scholars. It almost made me consider applying for a Ph.D.!

    The Humanities and Science Library on Fifth Avenue opens every day at 11:00 am. There is a gift shop, and special exhibitions are on all year long. Tours are offered everyday at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm (only 2:00 pm on Sundays), but you can also visit the building on your own.

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  • traveloturc's Profile Photo

    New York Public Library

    by traveloturc Written Aug 5, 2007
    NY public library

    The library is situated in Manhattan’s on ritzy Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Street. Several million people travel through the doors of the New York Public Library each year and an amazing 1.8 million individuals are NY library card holders.
    It took 500 workers 2 years to dismantle the reservoir that was situated at the site where the library was to be built. The cornerstone was laid in 1902.The library finally opening in 1911.
    The library’s famous lion statues that sit outside the main entrance – fashioned from pink Tennessee marble - welcomed nearly 50,000 visitors on the library’s first official day of business.
    The library’s collections number in the tens of millions and some of the holdings are simply magnificent – such as the Gutenberg Bible and the manuscript copy of Jefferson’s document which would become known as The Declaration of Independence.

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    New York Public Library

    by Dabs Updated Jul 13, 2007

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    NY Public Library lion
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    On my recent visit to New York, I finally had a few minutes to visit the interior. Take the elevator up to the 3rd floor to see the Rose Main Reading Room, a room nearly 2 blocks long with ceilings covered in murals, rows of oak tables and carved woodwork. Other highlights include the DeWitt Periodical Room on the 1st floor, the McGraw Rotunda at the top of the main staircase and the Astor Hall, the marble foyer on the 5th Avenue side. I think I saw a sign with guided tours so stop at the information desk if you are interested or check out their website.

    I love the marble lions standing guard outside the Library, I have bookends that I bought years before I ever went to New York at home

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  • martin_nl's Profile Photo

    New York Public Library

    by martin_nl Written Apr 15, 2007
    NY Public Library

    This is the main branch of the New York Public Library. It is housed in a beautiful building. When it was opened in 1911 it ranked as the biggest marble structure ever built in the United States. On the 3rd floor is a massive reading room, designed for about 500 patrons. So if it's a bit wet and windy outside, grab a book and head head up to the third floor to read the book and admire all of the art inside.

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  • Calm your mind in the Public Library

    by bradyj Written Aug 11, 2006

    My kids wanted an internet fix, so we took the subway to Bryant Park and went into the NYC pUblic library.

    You can't appreciate the spendour of this magnificnet public building until you actually walk up the steps and enter into the huge entrance hall, and then proceed upstairs into the main reading rooms.

    The rooms are simply eye-popping in their architecture and decoration. Look up to see three huge paintings of the heavens framed in by mouldings and gold leaf that will have you awestruck.

    Then wander over to the computer by the infomation desk and sign for an Access card (even lowly tourists can do this). Then go over to the access kiosk where you can pick up a photo ID card. This takes 5 minutes. NOW you can book some time on the computer, to check your email, book some tickets, or ???.

    The library limits time to 45 minutes and only once a day but that's ok, because when you have doen what you need to day, take a walk around the library or take a tour - very interesting.

    The washrooms have the coldest water in NYC. Just great on a hot day.

    Be sure to check out the gift shop on the first floor. There will be items here that you can't get elsewhere. I got some really nice thank you cards with classic photos from the early days of the library.

    When you need a snack, pop out into Bryant Park grab a cold beer and a sandwaich at one of the kiosks, and find your way to the library's free outdoor reading area. Here you can pick up a newspaper, magazine, or book, and enjoy a delightful hour in a cool park, surrounded by a sea of humanity.

    Dont miss this library.

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