1898: West 100th between Broadway and Amsterdam
Built in 1898 by architect James Brown Lord, the Bloomingdale Branch of the New York Free Circulating Library stood at 206 West 100th Street. The date of the photo below is unknown. And the library has, of course, since migrated eastward along 100th Street. However to learn about this historic building replete with Ionic columns, a portico and balcony, see the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report from 1989 for a whole lot of history.
At a time when both research and circulating libraries are desperately needed so that all may access them, and at a time when sadly ours are under threat and subject to mission drift due to real estate market pressures, it is interesting to read in the designation report about the old-school robber barons commissioning and paying for this first branch of the free circulating library.
Of course, you'd have to go way back to 1960 to have used this building as a library (that's when the library moved to the other side of Amsterdam). Since 1961, the non-profit Ukranian Academy of Arts & Sciences has owned this building and used it as a library and research facility.
A 1989 article in the New York Times reported:
The American Academy was incorporated in 1950 by emigres fleeing Stalinist oppression and it has kept the original library interior intact, if only because of its shoestring budget, now barely $50,000 a year.
The large, light reading rooms still have their oak furniture and varnished pine bookcases, but the building is now chock-a-block with Ukrainian artifacts, especially books and magazines like Dzvinok (Little Bell) and Dzvinochok (Tiny Bell), children's magazines published in Lvov in the 1930's, and the expatriate liberation journal Tryzub (Trident), published in Paris until 1941.
If you've ever been inside, please leave a comment below and describe what you recall.