Wednesday, November 21, 2012
The Irregular Guide to New York City Entry #16: The Treasure Beneath Bryant Park
Bryant Park is a lovely public space adjacent to the main branch of the New York Public Library at Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue. It’s a great place to have lunch or watch one of the free movies they show every summer. But whenever I visit, I find it hard to concentrate on food or films. I’m too busy thinking about the treasure that’s buried below.
(Above: Bryant Park)
Hidden beneath the park are the library’s archives—two vast floors with 120,000 square feet of space and well over one hundred miles of stacks. Every single shelf holds priceless treasures: Babylonian tablets. The trunks Herman Melville took with him to sea. Theodore Dreiser’s death mask. George Washington’s recipe for beer. The archives’ contents are worth untold millions (if not billions) of dollars. I’d pay almost anything for a little more than a look.
(Above: The NYPL Reading Room)
And for what it's worth, the upstairs is amazing too. (What? Your library doesn't have chandeliers?) And the people who work there do some pretty cool stuff.