I get it. It’s disorienting. Those impossibly tall buildings. All those signs and flashing neon lights. Cars honking. People everywhere. It’s so easy to lose your head in the clouds. But do so at your own peril. You may just miss something. There’s treasure here in this city. And sometimes that treasure is right below your feet.
Lynn and I were reminded of this recently when we were out and about early one Sunday morning. The sun was still in its pre-heat cycle and the previous night’s party-goers were still tucked snugly in their beds sleeping it off. We were walking along East 41st Street in the cool shade, through quiet, nearly empty streets, when we realized we had the perfect opportunity to photograph the sidewalk. That’s because it’s not just a regular, gum-infested New York City sidewalk. This is Library Way.
Library Way features a promenade of evenly spaced bronze plaques along 41st Street between Park and Fifth Avenue. The plaques were commissioned in the late 90’s through the cooperation of the Grand Central Partnership (GCP), New York Public Library (NYPL) and the New York City Department of Transportation (just one of NYCDOT’s many wonderful projects). Its dual purpose, ostensibly, was meant to be both a street beautification project and a celebration of the vitality of literature.
Ubiquitous New York City-based bronze sculptor, Gregg LeFevre, was tapped for the project and a distinguished panel of literary experts and librarians were convened by the GCP, NYPL and The New Yorker to select the quotations from literature’s most prominent and enduring works.
Do you know the names of the lions that guard the New York Public Library? Meet Patience, who sits south of the main steps. He’ll help us get through this Monday, right?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ (The other one’s Fortitude.) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #happymonday #nypl #patienceisavirtue #create #inspire #travelblogger #nycblogger #love #seeyourcity #instanyc #wanderings
The plaques are sizable, intricately designed, and contain an incredible variety of texts from some truly noteworthy authors, poets and philosophers. This literary version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame includes superstars like Mark Twain, Albert Camus and Kate Chopin. Strolling down this path is the perfect way to get in the mindset for a day of reading, researching, or writing. But should your neck feel fatigued from looking down, casting your gaze upwards won’t disappoint either. Beautiful Art Deco buildings like the Lefcourt Colonial Building line the street. Or pop in to the Library Hotel, which boasts a collection of over 6,000 books — organized by the Dewey Decimal System, of course.
So the next time you visit the New York Public Library, whether you’re touring the magnificent Stephen A. Schwarzman building or attending a Library After Hours event, make sure to take the scenic route down Library Way.
Pair it with:
A meal at Blank Slate Coffee & Kitchen
If you’re in the neighborhood of Library Way, there is no shortage of food options thanks to its proximity to Bryant Park and Grand Central. (We’ve featured many of our favorites on the blog like Breads Bakery, Zucker’s, Gotan and Great Northern Food Hall). But now you can add Blank Slate Coffee & Kitchen to the mix.
Blank Slate is an amalgamation of a few current trends: the artisanal coffee-toast-grain bowl Californian/Australian Cafe experience meets the Gourmet-Boutique-Curated Market/Bodega experience. So what’s that mean? It simply means you can find lighter, healthy-ish options for breakfast or lunch in Midtown. And why should you venture to this NoMad cafe and market? Because Avocado Toast and Breakfast Bowls are weekend staples that you can always rely on. But here’s the real secret: you can also find an eclectic mix of handcrafted culinary products such as prepared desserts, meats, and cheeses in their adjoining market, including the coveted Do cookie dough (without the lines!).
121 Madison Ave #5
Mon – Thurs 7:30 am – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sun 7:30am – 7:00 pm