The New York Public Library is the second largest library in the United States, standing only behind The Library of Congress. It contains nearly 53 million items! At the turn of the 20th century, the organizers of the library chose their location in the center of Manhattan on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets. These blocks were formally occupied by the Croton Reservoir, which was demolished in 1898. Construction for the main branch of the New York Public Library began in May of 1902 and took almost ten years to complete. President Taft attended the opening ceremony on May 23, 1911 and the library opened to the public the following day, May 24th.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the two marble lions at the entrance of the library have nicknames? When the library first opened, they were nicknamed Leo Astor and Leo Lenox after New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, they were called Lady Astor and Lord Lenox. In the 1930′s, Mayor Fiorello Laguardia renamed them Patience and Fortitude, stating that these were the qualities New Yorkers would need to survive the depression. These are the nicknames they go by today.
I love these pictures of the library under construction!
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