Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Great Art Deco-Designed Brooklyn Central Library In Vintage Photos

Mount Prospect Park, 1939.
New [main branch of Brooklyn Public] Library is in [far right] background.
Image courtesy of BPL.

Brooklyn Public Library in New York City was established in 1896. Between 1901 and 1923, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $1.6 million toward the development of twenty one branches.

January 13, 1941. Entrance, Brooklyn Public Library (Ingersoll Memorial),
Prospect Park Plaza, New York. Acetate negative by Samuel H. Gottscho.

Ground was broken for a Brooklyn central library on Prospect Park Plaza (Grand Army Plaza) in 1912. The design of the original architect, Cornell-educated and Beaux-Arts-trained Raymond Almirall, called for a domed, four-story Beaux Arts abomination. Spiraling cost overruns and political wrangling slowed 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.

February 4, 1941. Foyer, Brooklyn Public Library (Ingersoll Memorial),
Prospect Park Plaza. Acetate negative by Samuel H. Gottscho.

In the 1930s, new architects Githens and Kealy were commissioned to redesign the building. After much public and critical praise for the comparatively inexpensive Art Deco structure, construction began anew in 1938. Completed by late 1940, the Central Library opened to the public on February 1st 1941.

January 21, 1941. Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Plaza. Balcony curve.
Githens & Keally, architect. Photo by Samuel H. Gottscho.

Located at Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library now contains over a million cataloged books, magazines, and multimedia materials. Its local history division, the Brooklyn Collection, holds over a million individual items including photographs, maps, manuscripts, Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia and other ephemeral items.

February 1, 1941. Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Plaza.
Children's Room, from balcony. 5x7 safety negative by Sam Gottscho

The Brooklyn Central Library was landmarked in 1997.

January 21, 1941. Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Plaza. New York. Popular Room.
5x7 safety negative by Samuel H. Gottscho.

Over one million people enter through Central Library’s doors each year and countless others access its services, i.e. the archives of the borough's newspaper, Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1841-1902, available online.
August 2008

The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is the fifth largest public library system in the United States. It is not a New York City government agency; it is an independent nonprofit organization.

Sunset, June 3, 2008

Black and white images courtesy of Shorpy.
Thanks to LISNews for the lead.

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