The now empty Rose Reading Room under construction. Image via NYPL
The Untapped Cities team once got invited to spend overnight inside the New York Public Library and it was with initial concern that we reported about a public meeting to discuss the contentious stack renovations at the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main branch. That plan has since been scrapped, following major public protest, saving the 37 miles of stacks and in related news, Gothamist just reported that the NYPL’s Rose Reading Room will be reopening in the fall of 2016, a year earlier than estimated, after a May 2014 closure when a fallen, foot-wide plaster rosette fell from its ceiling.
Along with the good news, the NYPL published photos of the currently empty Rose Reading Room, which stand in stark contrast to images of its original and future grandeur.
The NYPL stated that though the room’s ceiling is in good condition, all large and medium-sized ceiling rosettes had to be reinforced with steel cables. Cracks in the ceiling were also fixed, and the neighboring Bill Blass Public Catalogue Room was also closed. The room itself, opened in 1911 and formally called the “Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam R. Rose Main Reading Room,” is 52 feet high and measures 78 feet by 297 feet.
Images of the ceiling were among the released photos, as seen below.
The Rose Reading Room underwent another renovation, completed in 1998, thanks to a gift from Library trustee Sandra Priest Rose and Frederick Phineas Rose, whose children the room is named after.
According to the NYPL, the Rose Reading Room’s architecture meshes “Old World” elegance with modern technology and has seen several famous writers including Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin and Elizabeth Bishop, along with many film shoots, like the iconic Ghostbusters.
The Rose Reading Room in its original grandeur, before renovations. Image via Flickr user Kevin O’Mara
Kazin once stated in his memoir, “There was something about the … light falling through the great tall windows, the sun burning smooth the tops of the golden tables as if they had been freshly painted—that made me restless with the need to grab up every book, press into every single mind right there on the open shelves.”
Below are additional photographs of the room under restoration:
Next fall, look forward to seeing the Rose Reading Room in such a state once again.
Next, see a map of the 37 Miles of Library Stacks Under the NYPL Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and check out OldNYC, an interactive map of historical photos from the New York Public Library Collection. Get in touch with the author @sgeier97