In 1906 department-store magnate Benjamin Altman gambled that his fashionable patrons would follow him uptown from his popular store in the area now known as the Ladies' Mile Historic District. His new store, one of the first of the grand department stores on 5th Avenue, was designed to blend with the mansions nearby. Note in particular the beautiful entrance on 5th Avenue. In 1996 the New York Public Library (NYPL) set up a high-tech library here. A 33-foot-high atrium
unites the building's two floors, the lending library off the lobby and the research collections below. Downstairs a wall of electronic ticker tapes and TVs tuned to business-news stations beams information and instructions to patrons. As part of the controversial Central Library Plan, the NYPL plans to sell this library and its Mid-Manhattan circulating library to fund renovations of the iconic Main Building on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The sale has been delayed but is still probable so visit while you can! A free one-hour tour is offered Thursday at 2; meet at the reception desk.