NY Public Library: Rose Reading Room

Ceiling of the Rose Reading Room
Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

The main branch of the New York Public Library faces 5th Avenue and sits in Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. I had to limit my visit to the grounds my last visit because of covid. This time, the library was open to the public, so I did a quick walk through the building and up to the Rose Main Reading Room.

In 1895, the Lenox and Astor libraries combined to form the New York Public Library. Along with Astor and Lenox, the main branch building also bears the name of Samuel J. Tilden. Tilden was governor of New York and ran against Rutherford B. Hayes in the 1876 presidential election. He left a bequest in his will for the public library which, combined with the Astor and Lenox libraries, helped fund it.

The Croton (or Murray Hill) Reservoir once sat on the site of the New York Public Library Main Branch. This above ground reservoir occupied four acres and held 20 million gallons of water. Vestiges of its foundation are embedded in the library’s south side.

The Beaux Arts style structure took twelve years to build. When it opened in 1911, it was the largest marble building in the United States. It offered 3.5 million books for circulation. Today, it is strictly a research library.

For more than 100 years, the majestic main reading room has supported writers, students and others. It offers a quiet place for study and research. This Beaux-Arts space is in keeping with the rest of the library. Old world charm and idyllic murals envelop readers in a peaceful retreat.

The room is vast, about the length of two city blocks, with 52-foot high ceilings. The library renovated it in 1998 and renamed it the Rose Reading Room after one of the benefactors. They restored the ceiling in 2016

Location: 476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018
Designation: National Historic Landmark
Date designated/established: Opened May 21, 1911
, NHL 1965
Date of my visit: August 3, 2022