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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Library: 1910

The Library: 1910

1910. "New York Public Library. A reading room." The NYPL on Fifth Avenue would open the following year. 8x10 glass negative, G.G. Bain. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Reading Between the Lions

There are no books because the library was still under construction when this picture was taken in 1910. The new library opened on May 31, 1911. Still there, on Fifth Avenue, behind the Lions.

Book 'em

Great picture. Am I the only one who thinks this looks more like a prison? Alcatraz library comes to mind.

Literary jail

Why do they put the books in jail? Is it to prevent theft? Could you just go pull a book off the shelf or would you need the librarian to get it for you?

Eerie is right

Grilles on the bookshelves. No visible electric lighting. A kind of desolate, dark atmosphere. Especially when compared of the library of Viipuri designed by Alvar Aalto. Too bad it was lost to Russia in WW2. Just Google "Viipurin kirjasto."

It pulls me in.

I'm dying to slide down that banister, and then pull on my skates and have a turn around that big, empty floor.


Perhaps the most powerful image I've seen for a long time.


Eerie, like a dream of going to the library and is has no books. What is the large screen for?

[That's a signboard or directory with a glass cover. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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