Central Library (Brooklyn Public Library)
Brooklyn Public Library-Central Building
The Central Library in August 2008
|Location||Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, New York City
|Area||2.8 acres (1.1 ha)|
|Architect||Raymond F. Almirall (1911); Alfred Morton Githens and Francis Keally (1935)|
|Sculptor||Thomas Hudson Jones and C. Paul Jennewein (bronze gateway)|
|Architectural style||Beaux-Arts and Art Moderne|
|NRHP Reference #||01001446|
|Added to NRHP||January 11, 2002|
The Central Library of the Brooklyn Public Library, located at Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York City, contains over a million cataloged books, magazines, and multimedia materials. Each year, over one million people visit the library.
The facility, landmarked in 1997, boasts the state-of-the art S. Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, a 189-seat auditorium that opened in 2007 and hosts lectures, readings, musical performances, and other events for people of all ages. The library's plaza, renovated during the construction of the Dweck Center, hosts concerts throughout the summer and has become a favorite outdoor destination for free wireless internet access.
The Central Library's local history division, The Brooklyn Collection, holds over a million individual items including photographs, maps, manuscripts, Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia and other ephemeral items.
Ground was broken for a Brooklyn central library on Prospect Park Plaza (Grand Army Plaza) in 1912. The design of the original architect Raymond Almirall called for a domed, four-story Beaux Arts building, similar in style to the nearby Brooklyn Museum. Escalating costs and political in-fighting helped slow construction throughout the decade. World War I and the Great Depression ensured that Almirall's building, whose Flatbush Avenue wing had been completed by 1929, would never be built.
In the 1930s, the architects Githens and Keally were commissioned to redesign the building, eliminating all the expensive ornamentation and the entire fourth floor. After much public and critical praise for the comparatively inexpensive Art Deco structure, construction recommenced in 1938. Almirall's building on Flatbush Avenue was largely demolished except for the frame. (Some of the original facade that faces in toward the library's parking lot is still visible.) Completed by late 1940, the Central Library opened to the public on February 1, 1941. It is regarded today as one of America's greatest Art Deco buildings.
The second floor of the Central Library opened in 1955, nearly doubling the amount of space available to the public. Occupying over 350,000 square feet (33,000 m2) and employing 300 full-time staff members, the building serves as the administrative headquarters for the Brooklyn Public Library system. Prior to 1941 the Library's administrative offices were located in the Williamsburgh Savings Bank on Flatbush Avenue.
- National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Brooklyn Public Library - Central Library". Brooklyn Public Library. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- Kathleen A. Howe (June 2001). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Brooklyn Public Library-Central Building". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-02-20. See also: "Accompanying 16 photos".
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