Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Library Way: The New York City Street Every Bibliophile Must Visit



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 New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

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.



Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Of course, we have to include one from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass 😉

Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

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

Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Library Way New York City Bibliophile - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

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!).

Location:
121 Madison Ave #5

Hours:
Mon – Thurs 7:30 am – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sun 7:30am – 7:00 pm

– J.

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16 Comments on "Library Way: The New York City Street Every Bibliophile Must Visit"

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Christi
Guest

I didn’t know the lions had names!
We’re so glad we stumbled upon the library when we visited NYC, it’s an amazing building, both inside and out. Loved the Rose room!
Thanks for triggering such great memories!

Tip and Jam
Guest

Love this. We found this street when we visited the NYC main library. It was raining that day and my photos were not nearly this clear. I think this is one of the great finds in NYC. – JAM

Lauren
Guest

I had completely forgotten about Library Way – I walked through it one night a few years ago with a friend on our way to Bookends – a quaint rooftop bar nearby – and then promptly forgot about it. Definitely worth another visit for a closer look at the plaques. Loved the Lewis Carroll quote! Of course I think my favorite quote was “the artisanal coffee-toast-grain bowl Californian/Australian Cafe experience meets the Gourmet-Boutique-Curated Market/Bodega experience” – I know exactly what you mean and what to expect now! haha 😉

Julianne
Guest

I’ve been living here for five years and didn’t know that Library Way existed. Bravo! Love that I learn about so many “new” NYC spots from you two 🙂

Erin
Guest

Library Way is one of my favorite walks in NYC. We loved staying at The Library Hotel, too. Thank you for sharing these little gems with the world. 🙂

Suz
Guest

I took some photos along Library way. It had stopped raining, and I was happily snapping away avoiding looking at the people who had to walk around me with annoyed looks on their faces 🙂 Fun day wandering around that area.

lynn
Guest
I don’t see my comment – sometimes I comment in my head and never get around to the act itself – must have been one of those times! This is what you all do so well – finding the bits that others usually miss and drawing our attention to them. I vaguely remember these, so thanks for reminding me – they are wonderful, all the more so for being underfoot in a busy area. I used to enjoy similar brass plaques in the sidewalk on lower Broadway – commemorating every single ticker tape parade – so much fun to read… Read more »
Dippy Dotty Girl
Guest

The membership of the New York Public Library is on my list. I entered it summarily and found myself enchanted. Hemingway always got it right, didn’t he?

Loved the result of your quiet weekend ramble. I am going to look out for Blank Slate the next time. I have been looking out for nice coffee places and not found many… some suggestions would be much appreciated. xx

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