The Real Deal New York

A look at the city’s last library apartments

In various states of disrepair, a few apartments within city libraries still exist

October 09, 2016 05:00PM

The Fort Washington Library and an abandoned library apartment via Atlas Obscura

The Fort Washington Library and an abandoned library apartment via Atlas Obscura

More than a century ago, when Andrew Carnegie donated the funds to create a citywide library system, libraries needed caretakers to keep the fires going. Today, many of those apartments have been absorbed in renovation projects. However, a few rare library apartments still exist, but as appealing as living in a library might sound, don’t expect to find a listing.

Despite the city’s high demand for living space, these outwardly appealing apartments – all of which require renovation – will most likely never return to the residential market.

“We have so many demands on our space, besides just the books, that it’s almost criminal not to turn these apartments into program space,” Iris Weinshall, the library’s chief operating officer, told Atlas Obscura.

At the Fort Washington branch, the library is renovating their apartments, one by one, into usable library space for the community – preserving none of the space’s residential character.

Even the flagship 42nd Street main branch boasted apartments until relatively recently. The superintendent moved out in 1941, and the library transformed the space into a mimeograph room, telephone switchboard and smoking rooms. [Atlas Obscura]Christopher Cameron

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