On this day: New York Public Library

See more from my On This Day series here, where I celebrate travel memories on their trip anniversaries.

On December 5, 2017, I was at the New York Public Library in New York City.

New York Public Library is the second largest library system in the United States, behind the Library of Congress, and the third largest in the world. Originally developed in the 19th century as an amalgamation of grass-roots and social libraries of wealthy bibliophiles, it continues to serve as a non-governmental, independently managed, non-profit corporation operating with both private and public financing.

Currently, New York Public Library houses 53 million items and has 92 locations, the most notable of which is the Main Branch adjacent to Bryant Park, Manhattan.

Founded by John Jacob Astor and James Lenox in 1911, the Main Branch was designed by architectural firm Carrรจre and Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style, showcasing a grand marble staircase at its main Fifth Avenue entrance flanked by two lions named Patience and Fortitude. Inside, the building features a Main Reading Room with 52 foot high ceilings, a Public Catalog Room, various smaller reading rooms, offices, and art exhibitions.

Additional space for the library’s stacks was constructed under Bryant Park in 1991 and the Main Reading Room was restored in 1998. A subsequent major restoration from 2007 to 2011 was underwritten by a $100 million gift from philanthropist Stephen A. Schwarzman, for whom the building has been renamed.