A reader contacted us to ask, “What are the symbols on the monumental doors of the Brooklyn Public Library?” We previously covered these doors when we served as Blog Ambassadors for the National Trust/American Express Partners in Preservation campaign, when the entrance was in the running to receive restoration funds.
At the time, Untapped Cities writer Tara Rasheed wrote:
Its massive 50 foot entryway portico is the building’s most monumental feature, illuminating an otherwise spartan facade. Bronze doorways are flanked by two great limestone pylons with Art Deco glyph-like detailing by the German-American sculptor C. Paul Jennewein. Gilded relief carvings depict the enduring themes of science (to the north) and the arts (to the south), including combinations of modern figures of a miner and an electrician, with classical ones, among them Athena and Zeus.
Centered between pylons, the 40 foot bronze gateway displays the work of sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, and features fifteen bronze panels depicting heroes of American literature, including Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven, and Brooklyn’s own Walt Whitman.
If you stop at the library’s information desk, you can get a pamphlet on the history of the library which includes a guide to the figure over the doors. Some other familiar figures include Meg from Little Women, Brer Rabbit, Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter, and Rip Van Winkle.