Audio File length: 2.19
English Language: English

The New York Public Library is one of the five largest public libraries in the world, and the second-largest in the United States after the Library of Congress in Washington.

Its origins date back to the end of the 19th century, when the generosity of wealthy public figures led to the establishment of “The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations”.

The main building you see in front of you was the largest marble structure in the world when it was inaugurated at the beginning of the 20th century, and it took more than a year – and 120 kilometers of bookstacks – to bring together the first million and more volumes that until then had been held in the city’s Astor Library and Lenox Library.

Today, the immense literary resources of this huge library system are distributed among three other main research libraries and some ninety branches. The books available number more than 40 million, and this figure is rising all the time!

You can now join the throng of readers, academics and researchers heading into this temple of literature. Once you pass the two stone lions guarding the entrance and walk up the magnificent steps into the library, try to remain silent. I’m warning you, though: it’ll be a tough challenge to contain your emotions as you admire the majestic columns, the marvelous corridors and the historic reading rooms, with their rich variety of wall paintings, wood paneling and marble!

On the third floor, don’t miss the Rose Main Reading Room, where, beneath the magnificent coffered ceiling, lit by the sky at dusk and by splendid lamps, you can relax with a good book, or just daydream, surrounded by the books of the past and the laptops of the future, both of them bearing witness to the inexorable shift from a written to a virtual culture!

AN INTERESTING FACT: over the years, the noble heads of the two lions at the entrance have impassibly donned a variety of accessories, from holly wreaths to graduation caps, honoring their current nicknames of Patience and Fortitude.

Originally, however, they were named in honor of the founders, Leo Astor and Leo Lenox.


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