So I’m still new here. I’m also jobless (and actively looking for work), which means I have a lot of time on my hands to explore the city. My current favorite place (which I don’t think will change for as long as I live here) is the main branch of the New York Public Library. Known as the Schwarzman Building, this iconic Beaux-Arts building is known in pop culture as the opening location for “Ghostbusters” (famously and hilariously parodied by Improv Everywhere) as well as Carrie’s doomed wedding site in “Sex and the City.”
The Library is currently celebrating its 100th year by running an exhibit containing highlights from their extensive collections. These items range from a Gutenberg Bible to a signed copy of “Mein Kampf” to Kerouac’s rolling papers to ancient cuneiforms to Virginia Woolf’s walking stick. The exhibit is divided into four sections: Observation, Contemplation, Society and Creativity. From the accompanying pamphlet,”These groupings, drawn from disparate times and places, are meant to highlight the collections’ scope and their value as symbols of our collective memory.” I might just be a sucker for history, but I found myself in awe and damn near tears walking around the giant room. I’m also a bit of a book nerd so seeing a first edition of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” gave me a lady nerd boner. The best part? It’s all FREE. And they just extended the exhibit through March 4, 2012.
Aside from the exhibit, the Library is an amazing place to visit. It is ridiculously beautiful (and once again, FREE) and easily recognizable by the two lions standing guard out front. And if you didn’t know, they do actually have names: “Patience” and “Fortitude,” so named by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia for the qualities he felt New Yorkers needed to survive the Great Depression. I am quickly learning that these are the qualities needed to survive New York, period.
So if you’re in the need for a bit of FREE history and culture, head down to Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street and say “hello” to “Patience” and “Fortitude.” You just might get to see me walking around with a raging lady nerd boner.
New York Public Library
Fifth Ave. at 42nd St
Photo Credit: ME