Reading Room at Bryant Park

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If you’ve ever been to Bryant Park in New York City, you know it’s one of the most relaxing places to visit- whether it’s to enjoy lunch with a co-worker, take a breather from sightseeing, or to catch up on that book. Located in the heart of New York and serving as the backyard for the famous New York Public Library, it’s definitely the place to be during the warmer months.

In the summer of 1935, the New York Public Library opened the “Open Air Library” in response to the Depression Era job losses in the City. The concept was simple- to have a place where out-of-work businessmen and intellectuals can go without money, a valid address, a library card, or any identification to enjoy reading.

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The Reading Room consisted of several benches, a few book and magazine cases and a table for the librarians who ran it. Most of the books came from the New York Public Library’s circulation, but magazines and trade publication were donated by publishers and individuals. Although a popular spot, it was closed in 1944 due to employment increases and World War II.

Fortunately, in 2003 the Bryant Park Corporation reopened Reading Room and modeled it after the original with the additions of a more extensive and eclectic selection of books and periodicals, lunchtime and after work programs and readings for both adults and kids. And like it’s predecessor, Reading Room is opened to the public without a card or identification.

The Bryant Park Reading Room is opened daily 11:00am – 7:00pm; April – October

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