New York City Library Postcards:
Civic Pride in a Lost America

NYPL Recently divided from the general New York page.
The New York City linen card at left was printed by the Manhattan Post Card Publishing Company, and also features the Empire State Building.
NYPL lion

Including each borough, as Queens and Brooklyn have their own systems.

Brooklyn Public Library

Separate system than NYPL.

Bay Ridge (73rd Street & 2nd Avenue)

Brooklyn Public Library

Prior to finding my page, did you know that the Brooklyn Public Library is not part of the NYPL? Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) predates Brooklyn's incorporation as a borough.

I'm not certain that this building, at 73rd Street and 2nd Avenue in Bay Ridge, was not a Carnegie Building. Carnegie grants dated from 1901 to 1923, according to the BPL history page. The card was mailed in 1906.

The pictured building is gone, per Google Street View, but at least it has a replacement.

Bedford Branch

Brooklyn Public Library, Bedford Branch

Still in use.

Opened in 1905: with multiple Carnegie grants across New York City, it's hard to determine which grant funded which library. In the mid-60s, it closed for nearly two years for its renovation.
If they had omitted the dentil trim and widened it by about 30%, it could have become a good Prairie style building.

The Valentine & Leighton card was mailed in 1914, but has an unevenly divided back.

Flatbush

Brooklyn Trust and Library Building Brooklyn Public Library Brooklyn Public Library
The 1907 card features the Flatbush Trust,
with the library as an afterthought.
It shows the trees
which seem to have made a straight-on view difficult.
This L&F Jackson card also is not a very edifying view.
Printed in Germany,
it probably dates between late 1907 and 1917.
APC Co. card,
mailed in 1915.

Most information about the Flatbush Branch comes from the Historic Districts Council website.

This building started life in 1905, in Classical Revival style: fairly innocuous, designed by R.L. Daus. Then Jack C. Street and John R. Petter got hold of it, presumably in the 1930s.

Poof! a Moderne library. Neither postcard shows the renovation.

Ingersoll Building

Brooklyn Public Library Two trees grow in Brooklyn.
(L) Plastichrome card by the Manhattan Post Card Company.
(R) Another Plastichrome card shows the grand entrance to the Ingersoll Building. The screen shows favorite characters from American fiction. Shamefully, the only one I'm certain about is Moby Dick.
The pillars look like they're covered by bronze and taupe toile.
Brooklyn Public Library

Ah, the new library. 'Tis a bit, ah, dramatic.
(But very cool, in a 1958 sort of way.)

So, take a look inside.

Brooklyn Public Library interior Is it a little dark and lonely in here, or is it me? Ah, postcard noir. Tres chic. I understand.
Gottscho photos, Artvue cards.
Farked version!
Brooklyn Public Library interior
Brooklyn Public Library interior Windows '62.
My rods and cones have reverted to the function nature intended.
(L) Mandatory garb for adult patrons: white shirts. Preferably starched.
(R) Childrens' Room. White shirts optional.
Both cards are Plastichrome productions.
Brooklyn Public Library interior

Queens Library

History page.

Queens Borough Public Library

Given address: 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, NY.

Per the Dexter Color card:

The facade of this modern air conditioned 'Research and Reference Center,' echoes the open beauty of its interior and reflects the streamlined simplicity of the library's operation. The nation's first major-size library (195,000 sq. ft. floor space) to serve the public on a single floor, it seats 1,000 readers ... has a capacity for 860,000 volumes ... and provides for future expansion.

This card, featuring the architects' (Kiff, Colean, Voss and Souder: office of York & Sawyer) rendering, was mailed in 1966 via Air Mail.


Lenox Library

Lenox Library

Originally, New York's equivalent to Chicago's Newberry Library.
Precursor, which originally housed America's first Gutenberg Bible, to the NYPL system.

Since 1920, the site of the Frick Collection & Frick Art Reference Library.

No mention of Frack.


New York Public Library

NYPL NYPL NYPL Established 1895. One's of America's cultural treasures.
Although the city received a large, 19th century Carnegie grant, the main building is not a Carnegie building. It was built on the site of the Croton Reservoir, 1902-1911.
Several of my postcards were mailed well before the building was opened to the public.
NYPL NYPL NYPL NYPL
Notice the horse-drawn vehicles. There's a tiny vendor's cart near the corner of the building. The vendor has an umbrella in this picture. Notice the women strolling in the middle of the street. Notice the buildings in the background.
This is a rather artsy rendition.
Trolleys and a car, plus a horse-drawn wagon. 1910 copyright.
NYPL NYPL NYPL NYPL
Stockings, anybody?
This is the same picture as the fourth card above, but advertises 'Darn-Saver Hose,'
at 2 for 25¢.
Self-framed.
Why is the library smoking?
Metrocraft card.
PUBLIC LIBRARY, NEW YORK.
Public Library located on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. Covers two entire city blocks, is built entirely of marble and cost nine million dollars. Opened for public use May 23, 1911, and contains over two million volumes and is said to be the most complete library in the country.
Unattributed.
NEW PUBLIC LIBRARY
The new Library, at Fifth Avenue from 40th to 42nd Streets, occupies the site of the old Croton Reservoir. It was built at a cost of $9,000,000. The cornerstone was laid Nov. 10th, 1902, and the building was opened to the public May 23rd, 1911. It contains over 1,500,000 books, with room for 1,000,000 more.
NYPL Phostint card NYPL NYPL NYPL
Wild assortment of transport on a Detroit Publishing 'Phostint' card.
Public library located on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. Covers two entire city blocks, is built entirely of marble and cost nine million dollars. Opened for public use May 23, 1911, and contains over two million volumes and is said to be the most complete library in the country.'
New York's Principal PUBLIC LIBRARY, located at Fifth Avenue and Forty-first Street, is the fourth largest library in existence, housing more than two and one-half millions of books and pamphlets. Carrere & Hastings designed the beautiful structure, which cost $9,000,000 to build. President William Howard Taft dedicated it in 1911.'
Skyscrapers loom on a linen finish card.
NYPL NYPL in Bryant Park NYPL NYPL
Photo post card showing traffic and the Empire State Building.
Bryant Park, Public library and 42nd Street, New York
Bryant Park runs from Public Library along 42nd Street to Sixth Avenue. 42nd Street is one of the busiest cross streets of the city. Grand Central Depot, Commodore Hotel and many skyscrapers are located on this thoroughfare.
New York Public Library
The magnificent building of the library of New York is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. It was built in 1911 at a cost of $9,000,000 and contains spacious reading rooms, exhibition rooms and art galleries. Its book collections are priceless.
Colourpicture linen postcard.
NYPL NYPL NYPL NYPL
Wild assortment of transport on a Detroit Publishing 'Phostint' card.
Public library located on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. Covers two entire city blocks, is built entirely of marble and cost nine million dollars. Opened for public use May 23, 1911, and contains over two million volumes and is said to be the most complete library in the country.
New York's Principal PUBLIC LIBRARY, located at Fifth Avenue and Forty-first Street, is the fourth largest library in existence, housing more than two and one-half millions of books and pamphlets. Carrere & Hastings designed the beautiful structure, which cost $9,000,000 to build. President William Howard Taft dedicated it in 1911.
Skyscrapers make their appearance on a linen finish card.
NYPL NYPL NYPL NYPL
Another 'Phostint' view, this time from Bryant Park.
Bryant Park and Public Library, New York City
Amidst the skyscrapers and hustle and bustle of New York we find repose in this beautiful park which is located in the rear of the Public Library on 42nd St. This library opened in 1911 comprises the leading municipal collections in the nation.
Public Library located on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. Covers two entire city blocks. Is built entirely of marble and cost nine million dollars. Opened for public use May 23, 1911, and contains over two million volumes and is said to be the most complete library in the country.
Curt Teich linen postcard, from 1933.
This majestic edifice was built in 1911, at a cost of $9,000,000, and is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Its book collection from all over the world is priceless.
NYPL NYPL
1964 Dexter Press card, photographed on a warm sunny day.
Note to NYC readers: black is not mandatory attire.
Colorgraph card.
New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets, one of the largest in the world, houses several exhibition rooms, art galleries and an enormous book collection.

Interior views

Reading Room

Every city should have a temple of knowledge such as this.
NYPL has many changes in the works. Personally, I think this room should be sacrosanct, but those desk lights should have those green glass shades. The round ones are a touch silly looking.
Round green shades aren't a lot better.

NYPL main reading room (L) Another 'Phostint' brand card.
(R) Newer, monochrome view by Manhattan Post Card.
NYPL main reading room

Children's Room

NYPL Children's room (L) Monochrome view of the childrens' room. Not very inviting looking, but I bet it was easy to clean and sanitize.
(R) Newer, color view of the Central Children's Room. The librarian has left her glasses on the table, perhaps before splashing water on her face and taking more Anacin.
NYPL Children's room

The New York Public Library at Lincoln Center

New York Public Library at Lincoln Center

The 1966 postcard is copyright by the Lincoln Center for The Performing Arts, Inc. and was made by Dexter Press, despite the Manhattan Post Card Pub. Co., Inc. attribution.

This is a closed stack library. At the left is a box of call slips, and toward the top is a service window. This explains the paucity of visible books.

What a nun would be doing here is anyone's guess.


St. George Center, Staten Island

Carnegie library building opened June 26, 1907. Attributed to architects Carrere and Hastings.

St. George, Staten Island Carnegie building Message Evidently the purchaser of this Valentine & Sons postcard was unimpressed by the acclaimed building, writing,
I think our Carnegie Library is prettier.
Especially if they were a tourist from Clyde, Ohio or Sycamore, Illinois.
St. George, Staten Island Carnegie building This monochrome card makes the building look more menacing yet.
And now it houses a lot of space for children, after a renovation. I'm happy to see this Carnegie-funded survivor still in use, as part of NYPL.

Author's comments

To the best of my knowledge, the majority of these cards has reached the public domain by virtue of the postcards' age. I claim full copyright on the text, which may be used in citation only. Also, I claim copyright on the scans.

If you have evidence that any of the non-Carnegie cards are really of Carnegie libraries, please e-mail me at (first name)(at)roadmaps (dot) org.

© 2007 - 2014 Judy Aulik
Uploaded 05 February 2011.
Major update: 08 October 2014.
Go upstate to New York public libraries, and New YorkCarnegie libraries.
Go east to Long Island public libraries.
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