Go Inside NYC’s Oldest Library, The New York Society Library

The Assunta, Ignazio, Ada and Romano Peluso Exhibition Gallery displays historic books and materials and is open to the public whenever the Library is open. (Photo by Beth Perkins; courtesy of The New York Society Library)Members'Room: The Library's elegant wood-paneled main reading room is open for quiet use most of the time and also hosts one or two events a week with authors and other presenters.The Library has spaces for quiet reading and writing, for children and families, and for events, as well as books. (Photo courtesy of The New York Society Library)The Members' Room on the second floor is a computer-free quiet haven with current magazines and newspapers. (Photo by Beth Perkins; courtesy of The New York Society Library)The Children's Library offers books and a full roster of programming for young readers from birth through high school. (Photo by Simen Kot; courtesy of The New York Society Library)

Explore the oldest library in New York City on a members-only tour. Established in 1754 by the New York Society—a group of six civic-minded individuals—The New York Society Library opened 141 years before the public library system was created. The library's current home is a landmarked, Italianate townhouse built in 1917 by architects Trowbridge and Livingston (the architects of the Wall Street headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Co. and the St. Regis Sheraton Hotel) for John S. Rogers and his family. On this tour, Insiders will get to explore the historic reading, reference and research rooms of the library including spaces that are open to the public and spaces open just for members of the library, while learning about the history of the library and its exciting current programs.

The New York Society Library is a subscription library which first opened in a room in the old City Hall. For its first fifty years, the library was known as "the City Library." It received a charter from George III in 1772 which is housed in its collections. During the Revolution, the Library's books were looted by British soldiers occupying Manhattan; some were torn up to make wadding for rifles and others were sold for rum. After the war, the Library reopened in its previous quarters in the old City Hall, then Federal Hall, where the capital and Congress were also housed. The library was used by such notable figures as George Washington, who failed to return two books! In 2010, representatives from Mount Vernon formally presented the Library with another volume of one of the missing books, The Law of Nations by Emer de Vattel. After a few moves around Manhattan, the library settled in its current location in 1937. Over the past 250 plus years the library has been visited by such illustrious writers and figures as Washington Irving, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Willa Cather, W.H. Auden, and many more.

This is a members-only event.


If you are already an Untapped New York Insider, log in to your account, and sign up for this tour on this page when registration opens on 2/14 at 12 PM EST.

If you are not an Untapped New York Insider yet, join today and register for this tour on this page when tickets go live on 2/14 at 12 PM EST.

If you don't see a "Book Now" button on this page, it means you are not logged in as an Untapped New York Insider and/or registration has not opened yet.

Tickets are limited to one per member, unless the member is an Explorer level member and can bring a guest. Tickets are non-transferable and your membership must be active when the tour takes place. Each booking will be verified to ensure each guest is a member.

Please be courteous of your fellow Insiders – if you are no longer able to make a tour but have ticket(s), let us know at [email protected] so we can release those spots to other members. We hope you are as excited as we are about this experience and hope you can join us!

See our full list of Untapped New York Insiders member events  and our upcoming public tours.

All courtesy of The New York Society Library, taken by Beth Perkins and Simen Kot

[mepr-show if="rule: 518547"][/mepr-show][mepr-hide if="rule: 518545"][/mepr-hide][mepr-show if="rule: 518546"][/mepr-show]


  • Registration for BOTH dates will open on Friday, February 14th, 2020 at 12PM EST
  • Date and Time: Friday, February 28th, 2020 at 12:00PM-1:00PM and Sunday, March 1st, 2020 at 2:00PM-3:00PM
  • Capacity: 10 guests per tour. Spots allocated on a first come, first served basis.
  • Meeting Location: New York Society Library 53 East 79th Street New York, NY 10075 The closest subway is the 4,6 at 77th Street