A short walk from Grand Central Terminal
is the New York Public Library.
We, of course, visited.
If you’ve ever seen the movie, “The Day after Tomorrow”,
(one of my favourites),
you will have seen the inside and outside
of the main branch of
New York Public Library system.
(In the movie, water rushes up into the first floor of the library
and later, to keep warm, they burn books.
I know! It should really be reclassified as a horror film.)
When looking at volumes held,
the New York Public Library is the fourth largest library in the US.
But it is first largest
if you are looking at holdings and comparing only public libraries.
Apparently, the winter after the 1929 Stock Market Crash
was the library’s busy period in history.
It makes sense.
What do lots of people without work and money do,
in an age without tv and internet,
they read, of course.
There was up to one thousand people
in the Main Reading Room each day.
Do you see the lion?
There’s actually one on either side of the entrance.
They are commonly called Patience and Fortitude.
They were given those nicknames by the mayor during the Great Depression,
to remind the city that they needed those qualities to endure their hardships.
The lions have actually had several nicknames over the years.
At first they were named “Leo Astor” and “Leo Lenox”,
after the library founders.
Later they were called Lady Astor and Lord Lenox,
despite the fact that they are both clearly male lions.
This is Fortitude
that my men are standing in front of.
Inside the library is GORGEOUS!
Check out all the marble!
When it was built, in 1911,
it was the largest marble building in the U.S.
Walking into my local library,
is nothing, absolutely nothing, like this.
Actually I think my local library could just about fit
into the New York Library’s foyer.
Just look at the opulence of this place.
I loved the ambiance
created by these candelabras.
But what I love more is books!
By sadly, (yet thankfully), the Rose Main Reading Room
was being renovated when we visited.
So instead of being able to see the room,
where people read those glorious books,
we saw this picture on the door,
depicting what the room would look like
if we’d visited in any other year.
Here’s a little video about the renovations
and why they were necessary.
It’s an official library video
and we found it fascinating.
We also found this video about the library in general,
which we enjoyed.
I’ve included it as fellow book-lovers will probably be interested.
Without the Main Reading Room,
there was still plenty to see,
and looking around the building,
it was easy to get a feel for the beauty
that we might have behold in the reading room.
Oh sorry. These are my beauties.
They don’t ordinarily come with a visit to the Library.
Just look at this place!
This is in the McGraw Rotunda.
Do you see the glass case in front of that room entrance?
The room entrance, by the way, brings you to the Salomon Room,
which is a reading or study room.
Have a closer look at the glass case.
Do you know what you are looking at yet?
This is one of the 48 remaining copies of the Gutenberg Bible.
(There were only 180 copies printed.)
These Bibles was printed in 1455 and this was the first Gutenberg Bible to arrive in the U.S. in 1847.
I loved the murals in this same room, the McGraw Rotunda.
The ceiling shows the mythical god Prometheus,
who apparently gave man fire and knowledge.
The next painting, a wall mural,
shows the story of Moses receiving the law from God.
The second wall mural
shows a medieval scribe copying a manuscript.
depicts Johann Gutenberg
showing a proof of his printed Bible to an archbishop.
(There is also a fourth wall mural,
showing the use of the linotype,
but it didn’t appeal enough to me to take a photo.)
What did appeal to me was the Library Shop.
A book shop at the library!
This place is a slice of heaven on earth!!
And what a bookshop it was!
Okay, so there weren’t a LOT of books,
and I didn’t even buy any,
but it was a very pretty bookstore.
Just the kind I would expect to see.
I haven’t even mentioned some of the cool holdings in the library!
(No, I didn’t see any of these.)
Within their collection, they have a 1493 copy of
Columbus’s letter telling the world he’d discovered the New World.
They also have Charles Dickens’s favorite letter-opener.
An odd thing to keep in a library,
particularly since the handle has the embalmed paw of his beloved cat.
I’m sorry Charles, but that is creepy.
And while we’re on the topic of weird,
they also have a collection of locks of hair.
They have locks of hair from Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
just to name a few.
On a nicer note, they also house the original Winne the Pooh and his friends.
Oh and lots and lots of beautiful books.
One of the largest is a book by John James Audubon, of course.
His “The Birds of America” is nearly a metre tall!
The New York Public Library also received a signed first edition copy
of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
J.K. Rowling gifted it to the library to honor the city’s tenacity during the terrorist attacks.
(This volume is about Harry and his friends preparing to defend the school against a rising tide of evil,
which makes it the appropriate choice.)
I could have stayed much longer in this library.
Sadly, we hadn’t timed things right for a guided tour,
and this was our last day in New York.
I was very happy to have seen this most famous and illustrious location
but we had to hustle.
Our day was still young and we needed to try and squeeze the rest of New York into one afternoon.
Oh and they search you coming in and OUT of the building.
Not even the museums bothered with that.
In fact, only the libraries had security going out as well as in.
Clearly books are the most valuable things on earth.
Back out into the frigid air,
we headed towards Grand Central Terminal
to catch ourselves a subway ride
down to the bottom of Manhattan.
(Ethan loved trying out all the different technology on our trip.
He was in charge of all new devices,
mostly because he was the best at figuring them out quickly.)
And no, the platforms themselves, at Grand Central Terminal,
are as dingy and unremarkable as most of the other stations.