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Most cities are lucky to have one library—New York City has dozens. With the rise of e-readers and digital media, libraries have fallen somewhat to the wayside but New York City, with its strong dedication to the arts and focus on preserving history, has kept multiple branches of the New York Public Library thriving despite the lack in some other cities. Here are 10 beautiful and niche New York City Libraries with their own history and charm.

10. Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Photo of Pace the lion at the Stephen A. Schwarzman building of the NYPL via NYPL

The Stephen A. Schwarzman building is located on 476 Fifth Avenue and generally referred to as the “main branch” of the New York Public Library’s massive system of 88 branch libraries and four main research libraries. The Schwarzman building is well-known for its vast selection of books on humanities, social sciences, and a circulating children’s collection. The library has been known to push boundaries and regardless of the political climate of any given time, focuses on freedom of information even if the subjects may be considered offensive. The library also houses rare objects such as medieval manuscripts, ancient scrolls, and collector’s items like comic books and baseball cards.

One of the major players in making this library happen was Samuel J. Tilden who donated 2.4 million dollars to build a free library in the city that was becoming a major metropolis and needed a library to help the city expand on its urban culture. The Astor and Lenox libraries already existed at the time but they didn’t fall in line with Tilden’s vision of a massive and impressive public institution. The New York Public Library was born through the efforts John Bigelow, who put together a plan that used the resources of the Astor, the Lenox, and the Tilden Trust.

The plan was signed in 1895, and the dedication of the new library occurred on May 23, 1911, after 16 years of planning and acquiring a million books. The opening of the library was such a momentous occasion that the dedication was presided over by William Howard Taft and 30-50,000 visitors poured through the library on opening day.

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