As I get ready to make my weekly trip to the library, I was thinking of the mother of all libraries, the NY Public Library in Manhattan. It is a wonderful institution, the library, invented by none other than Ben Franklin in 1731.
Having seen movie depictions of the wonderful Reading Room of the NY Public Library, seeing the place used as a setting in many films, most notably The Day After Tomorrow and Ghostbusters, I wanted to see the real thing. It would be a pilgrimage of paying homage to our nation’s commitment to the free education that is available to any person at any time, for free.
I went to NYC in 2004 on a journalism convention. We stayed in the Grand Hyatt on Park Avenue, yes, that Park Ave. The hotel is atop Grand Central Station, and by going down to the lower level you walk a hallway of wonderful and famous boutiques to emerge in the grand hall of the station. Up the street by a mere three blocks is the Library.
My friend and I enjoyed rambling in there. We were disappointed that the Reading Room was closed for repairs, but nonetheless we enjoyed the marble halls, the gift shop, and the architecture- including the decorative gilt surrounding the stately windows. Here we look out from the lobby at the intersection of East 41st Street and Fifth Ave, looking up E41st.
And here is the same view from Google Street View looking from E 41st St into the library at Fifth Ave. You notice in both photos, the three-part billboard at the bottom of the steps. Even though the photos were taken 7 years apart, the first by me in 2004 and the second by Google in 2011, the view is unmistakably the same. I enjoy photos of the same scene from different perspectives. I hope you do too.
And don’t forget to support your local library!