Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library

New York Public LibraryI returned to the Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library on Sunday to continue digging for a June 1969 article for my author friend in Southern California. This time I was successful, locating the article on reels of New York Post microfilm in about an hour.

This left me time to wander the halls of this 102-year-old Beaux Arts building. Designed by Carrère & Hastings, this was at the time the largest marble structure ever attempted in the United States. Unfortunately, many of the library’s rooms are closed on Sundays. But the Rose Main Reading Room, thankfully, was open for me to admire. From the library’s website:

The Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam R. Rose Main Reading Room is a majestic public space, measuring 78 feet by 297 feet—roughly the length of two city blocks—and weaving together Old World architectural elegance with modern technology. … Here, patrons can read or study at long oak tables lit by elegant bronze lamps, beneath fifty-two foot tall ceilings decorated by dramatic murals of vibrant skies and billowing clouds. Since the General Research Division’s opening day on May 23, 1911, vast numbers of people have entered the main reading room. Literary figures such as Norman Mailer, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Elizabeth Bishop, E. L. Doctorow, and Alfred Kazin have cited the division as a major resource for their work.

As I walked the perimeter of the 297-foot-long room, admiring the ceilings, I couldn’t help but wish I were among those using the tables to read and write on their notebook computers. These people couldn’t ask for a more beautiful space to work.

Fora brief history of the building, visit this page of the library’s website. Or, for the comprehensive (and beautiful) guide to the library and its architecture, check out
The New York Public Library: The Architecture and Decoration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building by Henry Hope Reed and Francis Morrone.

Below are a few more photos that I took on Sunday afternoon.

Rose Main Reading Room
Rose Main Reading Room
Rose Main Reading Room
Rose Main Reading Room
Astor Hall
Astor Hall, the library’s magnificent entrance hall, with a 37-foot vaulted ceiling
Astor Hall
Astor Hall, the library’s magnificent entrance hall, with a 37-foot vaulted ceiling
New York Public Library
Mayor Fiorello La Guardia is credited with nicknaming the lions flanking the library’s entrance “Patience” and “Fortitude.”

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