Thursday, December 2, 2021

Happy birthday to the Tompkins Square Library branch!

The Tompkins Square Library branch — one of our favorite places in the neighborhood — celebrated its 117th birthday yesterday (Dec. 1) at 331 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

The library's Instagram account shared the top photo yesterday... showing an early look at the crowds gathered after the 1904 opening. 

Here's another early look at the building... 
Daytonian in Manhattan has an excellent history of the branch from earlier this year:
The library was instantly popular among the locals. Before the doors opened in the mornings lines would form down the block. Finding a chair in the reading rooms was often no easy task, and children and adults alike competed for popular books to read at home.

On October 21, 1911, for instance, The Sun noted, "In the Tompkins Square branch of the public library...there are twenty-five copies each of 'Oliver Twist' and 'David Copperfield' on the shelves. No, not on the shelves. For even with these twenty-five copies apiece it is almost impossible to keep one on hand."
The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building as an individual landmark on May 18, 1999. 

Meanwhile, the fifth annual East Village Arts Festival is taking place at the branch through Saturday. Find programming details here. And find more of the library's offerings at this link

Previously on EV Grieve:


Bobby G said...

The main room of the Library is called the Yip Harburg Reading Room, named for the lyricist who wrote the songs "Buddy Can You Spare a Dime" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". In the original Oz books there is no rainbow. The rainbow comes from Yip Harburg's imagination. My guess is that when he was young he spent a lot of time at the Tompkins Square Library.

Corinne Neary said...

Thank you, EV Grieve! And replying to Bobby G, we’ll be talking quite a bit about Yip Harburg and his relationship to the library at our walking tour tomorrow (Friday 12/03) at 11am. Hope you can make it. ☺️

Anonymous said...

I know many older library branches were built to have apartments in the top floor. I always wondered if this branch had one of those.