New York Public Library

A National Historic Landmark building, the New York Public Library is one of the best examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in the United States

Entrance to the New York Public Library
Entrance to the New York Public Library cc licensed photo by thievingjoker

Free to tour and contrary to the movie The Day After Tomorrow, the New York Public Library is very much still intact and is one of the premier research facilities in the country.

Opened in 1911 on the site of the Croton Reservoir, the landmark building designed by Carrère and Hastings was the largest marble structure in the United States at the time. Created by combing the collections of the failing Astor and Lenox Libraries and the over $2.4 million dollar Tilden Trust, the public reading room and library had over one million volumes when it opened. Today it services almost 2 million library card holders.

A National Historic Landmark building, the New York Public Library is one of the best examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in the United States. Entering through Astor Hall, welcomed by vaulted marble ceilings three feet thick and a grand double staircase, you can join a free docent-led tour of the building or exhibitions. The famous Rose Main Reading Room is a majestic space filled with natural light from massive arch windows and lined with thousands of reference works under beautiful panel ceilings and chandeliers. In the Bill Blass room, one of the few remaining copies of the Gutenberg Bible is on display.

Most of the books in the library are stored on an incredible 75 miles of steel shelving located below the massive reading room. These metal shelving units double as supports for the floor of the reading room above.

Check out the 'Photos and Video' tab above to view a great video highlighting some of the impressive features of this amazing building which is well worth taking time to visit.

Nearby attractions include Grand Central Terminal, Chrysler Building, Madison Square Garden, Macy's Herald Square and the Empire State Building.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: No

New York Public Library Hours:
Opening hours may differ on holidays

  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: Closed

Address: 476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018, USA

Phone: (917) 275-6975

Official Website: New York Public Library

New York Public Library Reviews

Rated 4.7 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating The New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is an iconic and historic landmark in New York City. The building itself is stunning, with its grand marble facade and majestic lion statues guarding the entrance. Inside, visitors are treated to a vast collection of books, manuscripts, and other materials that make it a true treasure trove for book lovers and researchers alike. The library's reading rooms are spacious and inviting, with beautiful architecture and natural light streaming in through the large windows. The staff is always friendly and helpful, willing to assist patrons in finding the resources they need. The exhibits and special collections are also top-notch, offering a fascinating glimpse into the library's extensive holdings. Overall, the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in literature, history, or architecture. It is a true gem in the heart of New York City and a testament to the importance of libraries in our society.
C Sparks - a week ago

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2 Star Rating It’s a beautiful building and we were lucky to catch an exposition with some artifacts such as Gutenberg Bible, the toys from Winnie the Pooh, and many others. There is only one room open for public and the main reading room is open during a visitor hour (check the website for exact time). I was expecting there was a bit more to see but even most of the corridors were closed. At the Visitor center, there was a tour group with a guide telling about the construction of the building. I was aware of the tours (they are free) but we had no time for it and were just passing by. There was no one else in the room and I thought we could just listen to the guide for a minute since we are there. Much to my surprise, some lady came out to actively chase us away because we were not part of the group. To be clear, I wouldn’t impose on a tour but we were literally just standing next to the group in a public space. We didn’t bother anyone and had no intention to follow them. In dozens of museums around the world I could just stand next to a tour group for a minute and no one would care. And this is a free tour at a public library! The place that should be spreading knowledge. This was completely uncalled for and kind of dampened the mood for the whole day. I hope that library management reconsiders this practice. Or otherwise kindly post publicly how far exactly is anyone supposed to stand from the group to avoid being scolded. Really ridiculous.
Jelena P - in the last week

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4 Star Rating The New York Public Library is a true gem in the bustling heart of the city. I recently visited and was thoroughly impressed with the wealth of resources and the serene atmosphere it offers. The library's architecture is a sight to behold, blending historic charm with modern functionality seamlessly. The reading rooms are spacious and well-lit, providing a perfect environment for focused study or leisurely reading. What sets this library apart is its commitment to fostering a sense of community. The various events and programs offered cater to diverse interests, bringing people together in celebration of knowledge and culture. The exhibitions are thoughtfully curated, offering a fascinating glimpse into the city's history and cultural heritage. I highly recommend a visit to anyone looking for a peaceful retreat in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle.
Winston Chuah - a month ago

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3 Star Rating The iconic big building of the New York public library where only 2 areas are actually open to the public. Didn't even see many books like a library is supposed to have. At least it was free for all that is worth. The room where they had displays of art, famous people stuff, and other interesting items was worth looking at. They make sure you "exit through the gift shop." One reading room on an upper floor was open to the public with art on the walls, which was nice. Overall, it was disappointing since the best parts are closed off to the actual public. If you have all the time in the world, I guess you can make appointments and book tours there, but I certainly did not have that time.
Manny Sergentakis - 2 months ago

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5 Star Rating I’ve been living in NY for over the last 3 decades, worked around the corner for over 20 years, and this is the first time I visited New York Public Library. When you are too busy with everyday life, you don’t find beauty until your perspective changes. Architecture of the building from the outside is stunning, but when you go inside you can really appreciate its beauty in every parts of the library. It felt more like a museum. They do many exhibits there. Most of them are free of charge, and line was not long to get in, even for the weekend (maybe the weather was too cold?) Charles Dickens’s mahogany desk and cane chair were displayed. You can learn so much history and architecture. Perfect place to take your kids or just as a casual date spot. Whether you are a New Yorker or a tourist, I highly recommend this place to visit while in midtown.
Amy Kang - 2 months ago

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Subway Line Nearest Station Walking Time
B, D, F or V42nd Street / Bryant Park5 minutes
75th Avenue4 minutes

How to get to New York Public Library by Subway

Take theB, D, F or V train to 42nd Street / Bryant Park , head southwest on 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), turn left on 40th Street or take the7 train to 5th Avenue, head southeast, turn right on 5th Avenue, turn right on 40th Street.

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