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New York Public Library - Central Branch

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New York Public Library - Central Branch
Humanities and Social Sciences Library, NYPL Main Branch


Structure in General

low-rise building
existing [completed]
light gray
beaux-arts / historism




  • The Library began in 1895 as a consolidated trust, called "The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations", and comprised the resources of the existing Astor and Lenox Libraries with a $2.4 million bequeathment by Samuel Tilden.
  • The Library is built on the site of the former Croton Reservoir.
  • It took 500 workers two years to demolish the reservoir and prepare the site for construction.
  • The cornerstone, which weighed 7.5 tons, was laid on November 10, 1902.
  • At the time of construction, this was the largest marble building ever built in the U.S., consisting of 530,000 cubic feet of Vermont marble, including a one-foot thick marble façade.
  • The Rose Main Reading Room on the top floor is 297 feet long, 78 feet wide, and over 51 feet high.
  • Two lions sculpted from Tennessee marble adorn the main entance on 5th Avenue; they were created to honor two of the library's founders, Astor and Lenox, but were later nicknamed "Patience" and "Fortitude" in the 1930s by then Major LaGuardia; the names have stuck ever since.
  • Having been dedicated by President William H. Taft one day earlier, the library opened to the public on May 24, 1911, and welcomed more than 50,000 visitors.
  • This is not a regular branch library, but currently serves as one of the city's four Research Libraries.
  • This is one of only 9 libraries in the U.S. which possesses an exceptionally rare mid-15th century Gutenberg Bible.
  • The library was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 21, 1965.

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More Information


460-476 5th Avenue
2 West 42nd Street, 1-25 West 40th Street
476 5th Avenue
New York City
New York

Technical Data

29.87 m
118.87 m
82.30 m

Involved Companies

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Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • City landmark
  • National landmark
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