3. The Mercantile Library (1820)

The Center for Fiction in downtown Brooklyn

The Mercantile Library was established in 1820 by founder William Wood. The initiative behind the founding of the library was to create a place for young men (mainly merchants’ clerks), to spend time rather than at bars or billiard rooms. By the early 1870s, The Mercantile Library, nicknamed “The Merc” had not only become the fourth largest library in the country, but also the largest lending library in the United States.

If The Mercantile Library doesn’t sound familiar, it’s probably because it is now the Center for Fiction and the whole organization made a move from Midtown Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn just a few months ago. The Center for Fiction is the only establishment dedicated solely to the art of fiction and prides itself as being “a home for readers and writers”. The Center for Fiction differs from the Mercantile Library in that it offers many more services such as a writer’s studio, writing classes taught by authors, a café, and more! It also prizes authors each year with awards such as the “First Novel Prize”, which Tommy Orange won for his debut novel There There in 2018. The new center is located at 15 Lafayette Avenue in downtown Brooklyn.