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The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is no different than any other library except for its size. Only the Library of Congress has more than the 53 million items that this library possesses, making it the second largest in the United States. There are branches of this library scattered throughout New York City, including some in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. The library is another of the free activities in New York and is an excellent place for guests to come to enjoy some of the free things in New York.
The library was originally built at the end of the 19th century in 1895. Other libraries were built in the city well before this time, including the Lenox Library which was established in 1870. Other small libraries were built before the turn of the 19th century and on May 23, 1895, The New York Public Library was agreed upon to be created by combining a number of smaller libraries. Construction then began on this large library.
There were still numerous branch libraries around the city and thanks to a $5.2 million dollar donation by Andrew Carnegie in 1901, to help build 65 branch libraries located throughout the city, they continued to grow. These smaller libraries, made it easier for locals to find a library closer to home, but still kept in tact the idea of one large library in the city.
After choosing the site for the large public library as the two block section between 40th and 42nd streets of Fifth Avenue, construction began on the project. Architects Carrere and Hastings were selected to design the building and construction officially began in May 1902 on a project that was expected to only take three years to complete. There were 75 miles of shelves that were eventually installed for the books.
After over nine years of construction, the doors finally opened on May 23, 1911 with President William Howard Taft in attendance. The library cost nine million dollars to build and at that time was made up of more than one million volumes. At the time of its construction, it was the largest marble structure in the United States.
The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and additions were added in the 1980s with more than 125,000 square feet built on to fit the growing number of volumes in the library. There was also a three year restoration project that happened beginning in 2007.
Currently, there are 90 locations with various branches of the public library. There are also four research centers and electronic collections with a wealth of information included. There is a little bit of everything included inside the walls of all of these neighborhood libraries as well as the New York Public Library itself. The library is also home to more than 16 million visitors annually who come to check it out.
Making a Visit
For guests, a visit here is like a visit to any other library in the world, except for the fact that this particular library is so large. There are so many volumes and so much area to cover that it is impossible to see everything this giant building has to offer.
The library contains everything from research collections by various scholars to Jefferson's manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence to the Gutenberg Bible and so much more. There are a lot of different rooms that are located in the library and perhaps the best room to pick up a book and start reading is The Rose Main Reading Room. This huge room has tables lined up for what seems like miles and has endless seating so there is a place for everybody to relax and do a little reading.