- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Mobile AppDownload Fodor's City Guide App for FREE!
New York Public Library (NYPL) Main Branch: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
New York Public Library (NYPL) Main Branch: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Review
In 2011 the "Library with the Lions" celebrated its centennial as a masterpiece of beaux-arts design and one of the great research institutions in the world, with more than 6 million books, 12 million manuscripts, and 3 million pictures. In 2012, this National Historic Landmark was the center of much discussion as the library's board approved a controversial $300 million plan to convert the 5th Avenue flagship into the world's largest combined research and circulating library—a plan that will create two floors of storage space under adjacent Bryant Park, create additional public space and computer terminals, and eventually fold two other Manhattan branches under its roof. Construction is expected to begin in late 2013, at which point the library will close for two years, so best enjoy the beautiful architecture and peaceful (and free!) escape from Midtown's bustle while you can—check the website for details. The marble staircase at the library's grand 5th Avenue entrance is an excellent perch for people-watching, before or after you explore the opulent interior.
The library's bronze front doors open into Astor Hall, which leads to several special exhibit galleries and, to the left, a stunning periodicals room with wall paintings of New York publishing houses. Ascend the sweeping double staircase to a second-floor balconied corridor overlooking the hall, with panels highlighting the library's development. Make sure to continue up to the magisterial Rose Main Reading Room —297 feet long (almost two full north-south city blocks), 78 feet wide, and just over 51 feet high; walk through to best appreciate the rows of oak tables and the extraordinary ceiling. Several additional third-floor galleries show rotating exhibits on print and photography (past exhibits have included old New York restaurant menus and a 1455 Gutenberg Bible). Free one-hour tours leave Monday-Saturday at 11 and 2, and Sunday at 2 from Astor Hall. Women's bathrooms are on the ground floor and third floor, and there's a men's bathroom on the third floor.
- Address: 5th Ave., between E. 40th and E. 42nd Sts., Midtown West, New York, NY, 10018 | Map It
- Phone: 212/930-0800 for exhibit information
- Hours: Mon. and Thurs.--Sat. 10--6, Sun. 1--5, Tues. and Wed. 10--8; exhibitions until 6
- Website: www.nypl.org
- Subway: B, D, F, M to 42nd St.; 7 to 5th Ave.
- Location: Midtown West
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $179 -- NYC: Weekends at Times Square Hotel, 40% Off The Milford NYC
- $175-$199 -- NYC: Hotel near Times Square incl. Holidays Courtyard New York Manhattan/Times Square West
- $1099 & up -- 7-Night Transatlantic Cruise, UK to NYC American Express Travel
- $20.95 & up -- Car Rentals across New York CarRentals.com
- $38.50 -- Percussive Troupe 'Stomp' in NYC, Reg. $78 'Stomp'
First off, a big thank you to everyone for the help and advice, it was so appreciated! Read more
During the planning of our six week road trip I spent many happy hours back in the UK plundering ideas from this forum. Read more
I had not been in NYC for a few months and find bus ticket purchasing and use has changed. Read more
· News & Features
We're sure your friends' Instagram photos of their puppies are super cute, but Brad Tully's animal snaps ... Read more
From major airline uniform upgrades to tips from the jet set on doing Paris right, this was a very chic... Read more
The curious and daring among you will discover the vibrant, gilded landscape of Istanbul, the city tha... Read more