A look at the city’s last library apartments

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

TRD New York /
Oct.October 09, 2016 05:00 PM

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

Related Articles


Library won’t have to pay monthly $15K condo fee to renovate building, judge rules

New York Public Library’s flagship branch getting $300M-plus renovation

Residents at Fifth Avenue condo demanding ransom payment to allow renovation of
New York Public Library

Preservationists push to landmark NYPL’s Rose Main Reading Room

Vulcan pays $93M for NYPL’s commercial condo at 188 Madison

NY Public Library taps Dutch firm to lead Midtown renovations

Ashkenazy, Centurion snag retail at Nolita condo for $40M

New York Public Library grows near flagship Fifth Ave. location