In May, State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger drafted a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission asking them to designate the Rose Main Reading Room (one of the largest uncolumned interior spaces in the world) and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room at the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 5th Avenue as interior landmarks. Though the LPC has been criticized in the past for their backlog of potential landmarks, they quickly put the request on their schedule and just this morning voted unanimously in favor of the designations, which protect the spaces’ murals, decorative plasterwork, metal and woodwork, light fixtures, windows, doors, balconies, built-in bookcases, and decorative elements.
New York Public Library
Toilet Paper Paradise by Plamen Pletkov
In a city where hundreds of interesting events occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Ahead Art Nerd founder Lori Zimmer shares her top picks for 6sqft readers!
If you haven’t been to the Cadillac House–the cultural venue by the car company–now is the time to check it out, as two artists take over the space with room-sized installations perfect for Instragramming. Mo Scarpelli’s compelling documentary about journalists in Afghanistan plays at St. Bartholomew’s Church, and Amelie plays at Videology. Get an insider’s tour of the historic New Yorker Hotel, then stay after hours at the gorgeous New York Public Library. The famed Salmagundi Club will stay open all night for a draw-a-thon, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts hosts another great Gala at the Conrad. Finally, Beau Stanton transforms his artwork into a special stop-motion film at Brilliant Champions.
Image: Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle
Hot on the heels of wrapping a major renovation and hosting an epic reopening for the Rose Reading Room at their flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the NYPL is now moving forward with another mammoth revamp on its Mid-Manhattan Library. Last September, the library revealed that Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo had been tasked with the $300 million overhaul of both the flagship and the Mid-Manhattan branch at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street. And now, the NYPL is offering us our first look at the latter, a project they are calling a “state-of-the-art library that will serve as both a model and catalyst for a rejuvenated library system.”
Image by timetrax23
With over four million research books in their possession, finding a place for each and every title has been an ongoing challenge for the New York Public Library (NYPL). First starchitect Norman Foster was brought in to help remedy the issue, but his plans for expansion were dropped when researchers realized a redesign would mean moving 1.5 million books to Jersey for an undefined amount of time; and more recently, the library unveiled a brand new $23M storage facility below Bryant Park, complete with a $2.3M “Book Train” able to zip miles of volumes across the library’s 11 floors. But even with this new facility, space remains a challenge. So in hopes of increasing capacity, the NYPL has decided to abandon the Dewey Decimal System for a more space-friendly cataloging system. Yes, when it comes to sorting, subject is no longer of interest—rather, it’s size that matters.
The New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room officially reopened to the public today at 10 AM. Early this morning, NYPL staff held a ribbon-cutting celebration for two adjacent spaces located on the third floor of the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 5th Avenue. Both rooms had been closed to the public for more than two years for repairs and restorations.
Last week, the New York Public Library released stunning photographs of the renovation of its historic Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room, along with news that the spaces would be reopening to the public on October 5th. As of this day, when guests request research materials, they’ll come from a new, $23 million state-of-the-art storage facility below Bryant Park. To bring the materials up, the library installed an innovative conveyor system known as the “book train,” which, according to a press release, “consists of 24 individual red cars that run on rails and can seamlessly and automatically transition from horizontal to vertical motion,” transporting up to 30 pounds of materials at a time in just five minutes.
After being closed for a two-year restoration, the New York Public Library’s historic Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room will reopen to the public ahead of schedule on Wednesday, October 5th at 10am.
The $12 million project, managed by Tishman Construction Corporation, came about in May 2014 when an ornamental plaster rosette fell 52 feet from the Reading Room’s ceiling. In addition to recreating and replacing this piece, all 900 rosettes in both rooms were reinforced with steel cables. Other work included the recreation of a 27′ x 33′ James Wall Finn mural on the ceiling of the Catalog Room and the restoration of the chandeliers. To mark the occasion, the NYPL has shared an incredible collection of photographs documenting the restoration work and the Rose Main Reading Room with nearly all scaffolding removed.
If you think your neighborhood has changed since you moved in, step back and have a look at this incredible map to get some real perspective. One of the many maps maintained within the NYPL’s Map Warper project, this particular cartogram dubbed the 1855 New York Business Map shows the location of more than 3,000 mid-19th century New York businesses—as well as some other fun stuff like stables, churches and schools. Want to know what life was like in your neighborhood way back in 1855? Jump ahead for more.
For us NYC history nerds, the New York Public Library‘s digital archive is one of the most valuable tools. We can search historic photos by address, building name, or neighborhood. This can get a little tedious, though, especially if a location no longer exists or we don’t know the exact street number. But sleuthing for vintage pictures just got a whole lot easier thanks to a new mapping tool from the library’s NYPL Labs team. OldNYC is an interactive map that features red dots on every location for which the collection has photos from the 1870s through the 1970s and lets you explore and interact with the images.
Philip Sutton and the Irma and Paul Milstein Division, via NYPL
Though we’re living in the digital age where we can do a tremendous amount of research online, sometimes we still need the library, and more importantly, the help of an actual person. If you happen to be researching your family or interested in learning the history of a particular building in New York, then perhaps you’ve stopped by the reference desk at the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy of the New York Public Library and asked librarian Philip Sutton for help.
Philip has worked in the Milstein Division for almost five years as a reference librarian. On a daily basis, he takes the journey with New Yorkers looking to learn more about their city and more often than not, to answer deeply personal questions about their families. It’s a unique position to be in, and one that he takes very seriously. Originally from London, Philip has a particular expertise in helping people conduct research on building history in New York. He writes blog posts on the topic for the library and teaches a bi-monthly course aptly titled, “Who Lives in a House Like This? How to Research the History of Your New York City Home,” during which he instructs New Yorkers how to get started with their research.
We recently spoke to Philip about his role at the library, and, as expected, he was full of helpful resources.