Education: Fifth Avenue's Literary Lion

Vartan Gregorian rescues the New York Public Library

The 1970s were bitter years for the New York Public Library. Because of budget restraints, the main research library, housed in Carrère and Hastings' magnificent 1911 neoclassical palace at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, which once was open 87 hours a week, could afford to stay open only 43 hours. Rain was leaking through the roof and into the stacks, endangering a number of the library's 6.5 million volumes. New Yorkers looked upon the library, supported for eight decades by a combination of private philanthropy and tax dollars, as a shabby invalid. Even "Patience"...

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