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New York Public Library

New York Public Library Photo: (vincent desjardins) via Flickr

Who wants to visit a library whilst on vacation? They are damp and dreary places right? Well, for the most part they are, but the New York Public Library breaks the mould here. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful buildings in New York City, and it is located right in the heart of the city which makes it incredibly easy to reach.

Whilst public libraries have existed in New York for over 150 years, it was only in 1897 that the idea for putting all of the collections in New York under one roof was conceived. The first stone was laid in 1902 and the building completed 10 years later.

The building is created in a beautiful Beaux-Arts style, and it is one of the most impeccable examples in the world. At the time it was one of the most expensive buildings in New York to ever be constructed, costing an earth shattering $9 million to construct.

The front of the building is constructed from a flawless White Dorset Marble with a number of statues adorning the exterior. Leading up to the building is a stunning grand entrance surrounded by three arches. The six statues at the front of the building are worth seeing alone. Each of these statues, crafted by Paul Wayland Bartlett are meant to symbolize the top topics for literary work at that time; philosophy, history, romance, religion, poetry, and drama.

New York Public Library

New York Public Library Main Branch                                                         Photo: OptimumPx

Once you head into the building things get even more beautiful. The main lobby, known as Astor Hall is one of the most impressive entrance halls that you are ever likely to see. However, the main reading room is without a doubt one of the most beautiful rooms in the building. In this room a series of chandeliers grace the ceiling, with stunning natural light heading in through the windows. Throughout the library there are also a number of murals and other works of art to feast your eyes upon. It seems so much like an art gallery that you forget there are actually books here!

The library has one of the most diverse collections of material in the world, and the best part is that all of these materials are available within a couple of minutes due to the fantastic automatic serving system that is in place.

If you are into art work, or even books then you absolutely need to head to New York Public Library whilst staying in the city. The whole building is truly an example of how wonderful architecture really can be.


The library opens at 10am most days. Closing times vary, see website
Address/Map:  Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street New York, NY 10018
Phone: (917) 275-6975
Website: New York Public Library