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New York Public Library Completes Restoration

Historic, Three-Year Preservation Project Restores The Landmark Façade of the Library On 42nd Street

One of the New York City’s most revered and cherished icons is celebrating its 100th birthday this year – and thanks to a monumental restoration, it looks just as beautiful as it did on the day it opened as “The People’s Palace” in 1911.

The New York Public Library has just completed a three-year, $50 million restoration and preservation of the landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street, which has stood as an impressive symbol of opportunity and access for the people of New York City and the world for a century. The unveiling of the newly restored façade represents the start of a year-long celebration in the building’s honor, which will look back with reverence at all it has meant to the public while also looking towards a bright and exciting future.

The restoration project involved the repair of over 7,000 instances of deterioration or distress in the historic 150,000-square-foot façade, which was designed by legendary architects Carrère and Hastings. In addition, the façade’s Vermont marble was cleaned and returned to its brilliant white color and the roof, sculptures and bronze doors and window frames were all restored.

“I’m ecstatic that – with the generous help from elected officials, private donors and brilliant artisans – we’ve succeeded in returning one of the most important library buildings in history to its original beauty and grandeur,” said NYPL President Paul LeClerc, who was instrumental in launching and overseeing the façade restoration project. “Its magnificence is a visual reminder of how centrally important reading, learning, and creating are to a vibrant and democratic society. No other city in the world, now or ever, has made such immense collections and superb services freely available to everyone.”

NYPL Chairman of the Board Catherine C. Marron said, “Just in time for its 100th birthday, the Library’s landmark 42 Street building has undergone a transformation that has left it as magnificent as the day it opened on May 23, 1911. The Trustees and staff are immensely proud of the project, and thrilled that anyone who walks up the building’s front steps into a world of access and opportunity will now see the building in all of its original glory. Simply put, the building is beautiful, and poised to stand as an architectural and cultural landmark for another 100 years and beyond.”

Restoration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building’s façade (which did not include the two iconic lions Patience and Fortitude, which were restored in 2004 with a private gift and only cleaned during this project) was made possible through the generosity of the Empire State Development Corporation, Virginia James, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, Community Capital Assistance Program, Judy and John M. Angelo, Mary McConnell Bailey, and Jacqueline Fowler.

Image: The New York Public Library

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