on April 6, 2005
Constructed in 1911, this library building today contains over 6 million books, 12 million periodicals, and almost 3 million pictures. These numbers are just part of the 40 million items contained within the New York Public Library system. The entire system itself is considered to be the largest system in the world.
The great lions that guard either side of the entrance to the library are part of what makes this site a National Historic Landmark. Actually trademarked by the library (look at the library's logo), these lions have had a number of nicknames. Since the 1930s, they've been known at Patience and Fortitude. Patience still guards the south side of the library's steps and Fortitude sits unwaveringly to the north.
They have been photographed alongside countless tourists, replicated as bookends, caricatured in cartoons, and illustrated in numerous books. One even served as the hiding place for the cowardly lion in the motion picture The Wiz.
Look up when you’re in here. What you’ll see is a unique ceiling with its paintings. The ceiling murals had suffered badly over the decades, and by the 1990s, had become barely discernible. The ceiling murals could not be restored, but the $15 million budget allowed the painting of new clouds, and now the main reading room at the New York Public Library is back to its former glory.
Although paintings are not well represented at the library, most of the other artistic crafts are, and visitors should look carefully at ceilings, doorknobs, fountains, and furniture.
Getting there by Subway: B, D, F, Q, 7 take you there directly; 4, 5, 6 leave you close by
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