These materials include an archive of New Yorkers’ oral histories; firsthand accounts of Shackleton’s explorations in the South pole; a vast array of historical photos and maps from around the world; some of Shakespeare’s earliest work, from 1623; ancient Japanese scrolls; vintage baseball cards; and famous comic books.
Originally formed in 1895 from a combination of two smaller, cash-strapped libraries, that of John Jacob Astor, America’s then-wealthiest man, and James Lenox, an Upper East Side-landowner and philanthropist, this main branch of the New York Public Library was funded by the $2.4 million posthumous endowment of Samuel J. Tilden, the 25th Governor of New York and an 1876 presidential candidate. The library remains free today because of his original vision of a reading room “open to all.”
The 7-story building itself was designed in 1902 by Beaux-Arts architecture specialists Carrère and Hastings, and finally opened in 1911. Its outdoor stone lions, nicknamed "Patience" and "Fortitude," were sculpted by Edward Clark Potter, already famous for his equestrian statues of various presidents and works for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. In 2008, billionaire financial adviser Stephen A. Schwarzman financed a $100 million expansion of the library system as a whole, and the main branch was renamed in his honor.
Tours & Tickets
Discover the significance behind some of New York City’s most famous and impressive buildings on this semi-private three-hour walking tour of New York City's ... Read more
Location: New York City, New York
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)