As many times as I've been to New York, I've not ever visited the library. I think in large part because I honestly didn't see the need to do so...I hate to admit that, but I mean with so many other places to visit in Manhattan, why visit the library...of all places? Let me tell (and show) you why...
The building alone is worth the visit. It truly is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The interior is stunning! It is considered to be "the apogee of Beaux-Arts design" (nypl.org; The New York Public Library, 2015), and "was the largest marble structure attempted in the United States."
The architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings were selected to construct the building that had begun as a sketch on a piece of scrap paper by Dr. John Shaw Billings, who was named director of the library. Before construction could begin, a reservoir, where the library was to be built had to be dismantled (nypl.org; The New York Public Library, 2015). The cornerstone of the library was laid in May 1902. The library finally opened it's doors to the public on May 23, 1911, welcoming between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors!
The library came to be as a result of the vision that Governor Samuel J. Tilden had of a free library in New York City. There were two other libraries in the city at the time; the Lenox and the Astor libraries, but neither were what Governor Tilden had in mind. So at his death he bequeathed about 2.4 million dollars for the library's construction. For more interesting information about the history of the New York City Library, click here.
I am so glad I visited the library on this trip...and with Deirdre, who just as I, have a love and appreciation for the arts, history, architecture, and just all things beautiful. It is important to visit cities, countries, places, museums, etc. with people who share some of the same interests as you; or at least can appreciate them, because if not, you will not enjoy yourself and miss out on so much of what life and the world around us has to offer. If you don't have anyone to go with...go alone! There is much to be gained and you will be so glad that you did.
I can remember when very little thought was given to the selection of light fixtures in our homes. Thank goodness times have changed! Lighting, of course needs to be functional; however it can be an artistic statement, an expression of our personalities. It should be! I wish I could have gotten a better picture of the fixtures above, but I'm hoping it's at least enough for you to get the general sense of it's beauty, along with the hallway and the ceiling. Extraordinary!
Would you look at all of that marble; the floor, the walls, the ceiling...all constructed with marble! In our homes, many of us love the look of marble, but hesitate to use it...(1) the expense, (2) the maintenance. The beauty of the stone is undeniable. It commands attention and keeps you in a world of awe.
This is definitely one of my favorite photos of the library! I love how the skylights flood the space with natural lighting, really bringing out the beauty of the ceiling. The details of the ceiling, stairs, and the opening just above is evidence of a love for beauty carried out by the skilled hands of those that were commissioned to help build this section of epic American architecture.
A little funny side note...these are the same stairs where Carrie Bradshaw dropped her cell phone because Big was not going to show for the wedding! Okay...well, my daughter got a kick out this little tid bit!
This was my least favorite hallway in the entire building. That actually says a lot when you consider how large the building is. I'm just not a fan of this shade of red...kind of makes me angry! However, there were a few reading rooms on this hallway and one office in particular that I would have liked to have gone into (but was locked). There is a brief but informative video that you can sit through that gives you so much information and insight into the library, as well as plaques all around that serve to help you better appreciate the enormity and importance of where you are!
Marble at every turn! What other buildings, can you think of, here in the United States that are constructed almost completely of marble?
Oh!!! You can see our hotel (the Andaz), just across the street through this marvelous window!
The Rose reading room was closed while we were there, and it was really disappointing! More than one million books were set in place for the dedication of the library in 1911 (nypl.org; The New York Public Library, 2015). The architecural details of this huge room with it's coffered ceilings and rich wood finishes I'm sure would have given me heart palpitations! To see this room on television and in movies, but not to be able to experience it firsthand was a huge let down...just gives me another reason to visit when I'm back in the city.
I am so sorry for the glare! It does, somewhat, take away from the artistry and the craftsmanship of the walls, but hopefully you can still see the magnificence of it all!
The ceiling is nothing short of jaw-dropping! When I see work like this, it makes me think and wonder about the people who did it and what it must have been like to do it. I mean, it's a ceiling for goodness sake! It had to be back-breaking work...and how long did this take to complete! I'm not even a DIY'er, so to think about doing something like this really does exhaust me!
How many ways can I say "stunning"?
...amazing, astonishing, astounding, blindsiding, dumbfounding, eye-opening, flabbergasting, jarring, jaw-dropping, jolting, shocking, startling, surprising, stupefying...
I do realize that I have featured a lot of pictures, but I do hope that you will go back and take a look at each one noticing the attention to detail that went into creating this iconic building. Our country is a very young one in comparison to others, so to be able to see such amazing work done by hundreds of tradesmen and workers in the early 20th century without the machinery and technology of today, should be awe inspiring. Well, it was for me; especially since you don't find works like this in the construction of new buildings today. It's actually quite sad, but I guess a sign of the times non-the-less (deep breath...long sigh).
Make it AMAZING!