9. Construction of Central Library took nearly 30 years

Brooklyn Public Library exterior

Central Library broke ground in 1912, but didn’t open until 1941. The library that opened looked very different from the original plans. The original Central Library branch was supposed to be a grand Beaux Arts structure designed by architect Raymond F. Almirall. Only one unfinished wing of Almirall’s design was built before the entire project shut down due to World War I and the Great Depression. The unifinished wing sat alone for more than two decades.

Work resumed in 1935 with a new Art Deco design by architects Alfted Morton Githens and Francis Keally. The new, pared back plans, called for a limestone clad exterior meant to evoke the shape of an open book, “with its spine on Grand Army Plaza and two wings opening like pages onto Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue.” The opening of the library was finally celebrated on March 21, 1941.