One hundred short years ago New Yorkers took their first steps up the grand stair passed Patience and Fortitude (those are the lion's names) into their very own public library.
It was May 23, 1911.
Sixteen years before an agreement had been signed combining the existing Astor and Lenox libraries with the fortune of Samuel Tilden to create the new free library and reading room. Based on a sketch by the new library's director the architecture firm of Carrere and Hastings designed the library.
It was to be the largest marble structure to be built in the United States.
At a cost of $9 million the New Public Library was complete in 1911. A system of elevators was used to deliver books quickly to the requester. Here is a section drawing of the library showing the stacks and elevator system:
The New York Public Library is an intrinsic part of the city's map, physically and socially. Over the years the city's people have come to know the building for its massive stone presence and as a symbol of the power of knowledge.
|The Bryant Park facade of the library c. 1930s|
|Main Reading Room|