New York is a great city! There is so much beauty to see. As part of New York on a budget, we only visit free attractions. And of course that includes a visit to one of, or perhaps the most beautiful library in the world: The New York Public Library. Borrowing a book, studying or working has never been so much fun. A free tour teaches us all about this impressive structure. Let’s go!
The New York Public Library
Built in 1895, the New York Public Library has as many as 88 different sections. The most famous is the largest marble structure ever built in the US, located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Also known as the Stephen A. Schwarzmann Building, the library opened to the public in 1911. In the middle of Manhattan, the imposing building towers high above you. Before you walk in as one of the millions of visitors each year, you first pass the large marble lions, named Patience and Fortitude, who stand guard at the entrance on Fifth Avenue. While walking through New York Midtown, you will pass by it.
Astor Hall: is this really a library?
Entering through the revolving doors, you enter Astor Hall, an arrival hall like you’ve never seen before. You’ll find the shop, restrooms and coffee here. But far more impressive are the marble arches, marble staircases and beautiful chandeliers. This seems more like an ancient museum rather than a library where many borrow a book every day.
The library holds nearly 53 million items, including millions of books spread across some 140 kilometers of bookshelves. The manuscripts of just about every major English-language author can be found here. As well as very rare pieces such as the Gutenberg Bible and a copy of the Declaration of Independence handwritten by Thomas Jefferson. As many as 431,000 (historical) maps, including 10,000 of New York City alone, and 16,000 atlases and books on cartography are also housed here, in The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division to be exact. This collection dates from the sixteenth century to the present.
DeWitt Walace Periodical Room: a feast for the eyes
One of New York’s finest public reading rooms is the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room. With elegant chandeliers, numerous wall panels and beautiful murals, this is really amazing. This room houses 200 different popular magazines and 22 both domestic and foreign newspapers. An interesting fact is that this reading room is named after the founder of Readers’s Digest Magazine. In the 1920s, DeWitt Walace spent many hours in the Periodical Room. The restoration of this room in 1983 was made possible by a generous gift from the Wallace Fund. Exactly: founded by DeWitt Walace.
McGraw Rotunda: also for a reception or dinner
The McGraw Rotunda, by the way, is also a hall not to be missed. Look how beautiful! The murals tell the history of the written word. And if you want to host a small reception or dinner, you can do so here.
Rose Main Reading Room: one of the most famous and beautiful reading rooms in the world
The most famous room at The New York Public Library is the Rose Main Reading Room, one of the largest and most impressive reading rooms in the world, almost the size of a soccer field. From all over the world, people travel to the library to see exactly this reading room. Many a movie and series have been shot here, such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Ghostbusters (1984) and Sex and the City (2008). Also for me, the Rose Main Reading Room is a must-see, but unfortunately this very room has been closed for more than a year due to maintenance. Fortunately, there is a nice big picture in front of the entrance to still get an impression of this unreal place to read a book.
You can visit the New York Public Library for free, and there are many other free sights in New York.
No wonder, then, that nearly 2 million people have a library card here…
Read all information and tips for your city trip New York City.