53 East 79th Street

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Features, History

shakespeare and sons bed, paris bookstore with bed, shakespeare and sons paris

Image by Glynnis Ritchie via flickr

For many book lovers, there is nothing more exciting than the idea of a home library. What most of the city’s book lovers don’t know is that until recently, there was an affordable way to fulfill the dream of a home library—at least for book lovers who also happened to be handy with tools.

In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were responsible. This meant that for decades, behind the stacks, meals were cooked, baths and showers were taken, and bedtime stories were read. And yes, families living in the city’s libraries typically did have access to the stacks at night—an added bonus if they happened to need a new bedtime book after hours.

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