If you are a Sex in the City or Seinfeld fan or have seen box office smashes like Ghostbusters and The Day After Tomorrow, chances are you are already familiar with the New York City Public Library (NYPL). This National Historic Landmark is one of the top architectural marvels in Manhattan, and with its two giant lion statues guarding the entrance and its all marble Beaux-Arts splendor is well worth the visit even if libraries are not usually your thing. Just behind the library, Bryant Park awaits, a lush 10-acre greenspace that is one of the city’s top parks and hosts a variety of activities throughout the year. This indoor outdoor combo provides one of the most rewarding ways to spend a couple hours in Midtown.
The New York City Public Library: Getting There
Located just a few blocks east of Times Square and all its razzmatazz, the NYPL and Bryant Park are hidden gems that are easy to visit even if you have the most action packed itinerary.
- New York City Public Library Address: 476 Fifth Avenue (42nd St and Fifth Ave)
- Hours: Open 10am – 6pm Thursday to Monday, 10am to 8pm Tuesday. Closed Wednesday.
- On Subway: The 5th Avenue Bryant Park Station is right in front of the Library and Grand Central Station is just a block and a half away.
Inside the New York City Public Library
Besides simply checking out the awesome exterior of the building, which was the largest all marble structure in the world when it was built in 1911, the interior of the New York City Public Library holds a treasure trove of architectural and scholastic delights. Here are some highlights:
- The General Research Division: This magnificent chamber sports soaring ceilings and turn of the century décor while holding over 43 million items mostly related to humanities and the social sciences.
- Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division: Home to one of the largest map and atlas collections in the world, this chandelier lit room is a must for any adventure minded visitors.
- The Children’s Center: Explore the massive collection of picture books, DVDs and educational materials for the young ones and catch a reading by one of the on staff librarians.
- The Rare Book Division: Everything from medieval medical manuscripts to ancient Asian block prints are on display in this one of a kind room.
- The Library Shop: T-shirts, totes and a wide variety of other items that sport the New York City Public Library’s lion head emblem are available here.
Take a Break in Bryant Park
Built over a structure that housing the immense stacks of the New York City Public Library, Bryant Park is a grassy expanse that draws locals in droves to its oasis like tranquility in the middle of the midtown Manhattan madness. In fact, visit during any weekday and you will see the park filled with more office workers on break soaking up the sun and relaxing after lunch than with visitors to the city.
Grab a cappuccino at the Bryant Park Cafe or a cold craft brew at the Southwest Porch gastropub to fit right in to the relaxed vibe here, both sport open air seating and are great for people watching. Bryant Park is also home to a carousel that delights the little ones and the Reading Room, which hosts literary events throughout the year, as well as one of Midtown’s three ice skating rinks during the winter season.