Show Business: Beyond Coteries

The building, an ornate pile of red brick in Manhattan's East Village, was built by Multimillionaire John Jacob Astor to house New York's first public library. It has been designated a federal landmark and, except when the janitor's dog naps on the front steps, its outward aspect is as staid as old money. Inside, however, the atmosphere combines elements of a happening, a commune and a scene from The Time of Your Life. Bicycles wheel through the stately old lobby. Plays are being rehearsed. Youths in jeans scurry around with portfolios. Music echoes...

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