The prestigious New York City Public Library located on 42nd St. and 5th avenue is one of the more historically known public buildings not only in NYC but in the world as well. The entrance to the massive hall is guarded by the NYPL’s iconic lion statues. Although it’s surprising to tourists when they find out that this building is just one of the several branches of the NY Public Library. The NYPL has branches throughout Manhattan as well as in the Bronx and Staten Island. Tourists also mistake the midtown location for a museum and rightfully so. But even the locals have gone unintroduced to some of the intricate facts that live within the New York Public Library. Here’s some secrets about the NYPL that you should know about:
The NYPL main building was once a reservoir
The main source of water for New York City in the 19th century was from the Croton Reservoir, with its central location at 42nd and 5th ave, the current grounds of the NYPL. The Croton Reservoir was the main source of water until it was no longer sufficient to supply NYC as the city grew in population and location around 1880. The NYPL was founded just 15 years later and took over the now vacant location in 1895. It officially opened in 1911.
The NYPL’s water fountains don’t actually work
The water fountains at the main branch of the NYPL are all dried up so if you haven’t found out, their water fountains don’t actually work. But the library does have plans to restore their outdoor fountains on 5th avenue. A grant from the Wilson Charitable Trust supports a restoration project to bring life to the historic fountains on the main campus NYPL campus. The fountains are located below either side of the main stairway and this marks the first time in nearly three decades that they have been operational.
The NYPL underground storage exists beneath Bryant Park
Bryant Park just became a bit more interesting. The next time you’re taking a stroll around the park, know that six feet beneath you exists 40 miles of library shelves holding 1.5 million books and 500,000 reels of microfilm. The storage project for the NYPL main building cost $24 million and was instituted from the library’s opening in 1991. The underground hub has an 120-foot tunnel that connects it to the main library. Although that’s only a section of the library’s underground storage. Underneath the Main Branch is an original storage space comprising of seven levels of underground shelving made of Carnegie steel. The NYPL has outgrown not only its facility storage but all underground storage as well. The organization has even moved over three million items off-site to their Princeton, NJ location.