Majestic, massive and right in the heart of Manhattan, the historic New York Public Library, a pile of blazing white marble on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, has served as one of the city’s most venerable institutions for more than a century.

Officially known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, but also as the Main Branch, this character-rich edifice opened in 1911 and continues to serve as the flagship for the New York Public Library network with more than 50 million items spread among 90-plus branches.

The building’s Rose Main Reading Room—with its ornate, Beaux-Arts ceiling featuring cherubs, plaster rosettes and celestial murals—reopened three years ago after a US$12-million restoration. A further renovation is currently transforming 10 separate rooms into a more versatile study and seminar space.

Across the street, the Mid-Manhattan Library is undergoing another project with the addition of up to 35 per cent more public space, including a rooftop terrace.

3 More Libraries to Visit in the United States

Geisel Library, SanDiego, photo by Erik Jepsen

Geisel Library, San Diego

Looking a little like a UFO, this library features a collection of original drawings and manuscripts from its namesake, Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Set in a picturesque, seaside location, this 164,000-square-foot tribute to America’s 35th president includes a recreation of the Oval Office and a collection of moon rocks.

Richard J. Riordan Central Library, Los Angeles

This eight-floor landmark in downtown Los Angeles has a puppet theatre and a performing arts space and is truly a community gathering place.

Read more: Discover stunning libraries in Calgary and Dublin

[This story appears in the February 2019 issues of  WestJet Magazine]