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Reading for Pleasure: Recommended Stops Along Library Way

For bibliophiles visiting the city, a trip to the main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in midtown is a required stop. But what's also enjoyable is a stroll of book-related points of interest nearby. On E. 41st Street, on the two blocks just to the east of the main entrance of the library in a stretch known as Literary Way, look down to the sidewalk for the bronze plaques depicting literary quotations. After visiting the great marble halls and rooms of the library, walk to the west side of the building to Bryant Park. While there, borrow a book from its outdoor Reading Room or take a look at one of the statues commemorating a notable figure in arts and letters. For a coffee break, stroll east on 42nd Street to Madison Avenue and look for the new branch of D'Espresso with its mind-bending design of a book-lined study turned on its side. Or for a longer break late in the day or night, wander over to the Library Hotel's rooftop bar, Bookmarks, and sip a glass of wine while contemplating literary matters against the backdrop of the New York skyline. It's a great way to spend the day. In New York, we take our book matters seriously.

Also of literary note nearby - the Algonquin Hotel, the home of the famous literary Round Table, and the Yale Club, frequented by Nick Caraway in The Great Gatsby. If traveling by subway here, take note of the literary-themed artwork lining the underground passageways near Fifth Avenue.

Created by Grand Central Partnership and dedicated in 2004, the two-block corridor on E. 41st Street between Park Avenue/Pershing Square and Fifth Avenue is known as Library Way. Along the sidewalk, look for bronze plaques with quotations from world literature. The plaques are the creation of sculptor Gregg Lefevre.

The entrance of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library is guarded by two lions, Patience and Fortitude.

Inside the NYPL. This opulent Beaux Arts palace features gleaming white marble walls and floors. The exterior is undergoing extensive renovation and cleaning.

The vast Rose Main Reading Room has inspired its own poetry and scenes from great fiction. Filled with long tables and desk lamps, the room is lined with reference books. Enormous windows soar up to high ceiling murals and elegant chandeliers. 

In Bryant Park, look for statues of modernist poet, arts patron and salon-keeper Gertrude Stein (shown here), German Enlightenment man of letters Goethe, and American romantic poet and journalist William Cullen Bryant. 

Look for the outdoor Reading Room, marked by large patio umbrellas, along the esplanade on the north side of Bryant Park. A reading area for children is near the carousel. On a beautiful day, Bryant Park approaches heaven on earth. Is this not gorgeous?

The Library Hotel, corner 41st St. and Madison Avenue. The upscale boutique hotel's rooms are organized and decorated according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Visit the spacious rooftop bar, Bookmarks, on the 14th floor. The drinks are New York pricey, but some have cute names like "Tequila Mockingbird," "The Pulitzer," and "Catcher in the Rye."

D'Espresso, 317 Madison Ave. Small coffee shop with an unusual book-related design theme. It looks like the room has been turned on its side, with books lining the floor and ceiling.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple taken with the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone from Wednesday, October 13, 2010. Clicking on images greatly enlarges them.

Related post: Some Serious Wi-fi: The Edna Barnes Salomon Room at the New York Public Library.

View Reading for Pleasure: Recommended Stops Near the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in a larger map


  1. I've loved my visits to the main library, Teri. And I'm glad you included the Algonquin Hotel in this post; it was very cool to meet you and Dan there this spring!

  2. fab fotos, as always!


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