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This Public Library Is Inside a Subway Station


(Photo: Yelp user Michael L.)

This is a photo of the main entrance to the Terence Cardinal Cook-Cathedral Library, a branch of the New York City Public Library. You've never heard of it? That's because it's so underground. If you want to go inside, you'll have to go to the 6 line station located at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 50th Street.

According to a New York Times article written in 2010, there's been a library in that spot since 1887. The first one was operated by the Archdiocese of New York. The NYPL has been there since 1992. Corey Kilgannon talked to librarian Anisha Huffman, then the branch manager:

At 2,100 square feet, it is the second smallest of the 90 branches in the New York system, which covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island (the Macombs Bridge Library in the Harlem River Houses is 700 square feet). It has little space for desktop computers, so there are 13 laptops. But the Cooke branch has the circulation activity of a much bigger library, officials said.

Ms. Huffman, who commutes on the No. 6 from Upper Manhattan, said the patron pool seemed to reflect the ridership of a typical downtown train in Manhattan: an extreme diversity of ethnicity, wealth, education and occupation. You have the rich and the poor, the soiled and the well scrubbed, all pushed together. The branch also sees tourists from Midtown hotels who check e-mail, print airplane tickets and ask touristy questions.

“It’s funny,” said Alvin Tulshi, a clerk at the library. “One question we get regularly is ‘Where’s the Barnes & Noble?’ ”

Don't try to visit right now. The library is temporarily closed for renovations.

-via Pop-Up City


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