5. The Ottendorfer Library (1884)

The exterior of the Ottendorfer Library, one of the oldest libraries in the city
The Ottendorfer Library now provides resources for those who want to learn English, similar to some other libraries throughout the city.

The Ottendorfer Library in the East Village was founded in 1884 as New York City’s first free public library. Designed by William Schickel, an architect from Germany, the library is a combination of Neo-Italian Renaissance and Queen Anne architecture. The branch was a gift from Oswald Ottendorfer, the owner of the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung newspaper. His intention in opening the library was to provide the German community in the neighborhood with books to assist in assimilating to American culture. Originally, the library shelves held books in English and German.

The library, which is now a branch of the New York Public Library, honors the original intentions of Ottendorfer by centering a majority of its events around learning English. Other events include book swaps and technology classes for teens and adults. The building is located on 135 Second Avenue and is a designated New York City landmark.