Mon and Fri, 9am-6pm; Tue-Thu, 9am-9pm; Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, closed
2, 3 at Grand Army Plaza; B, Q at Seventh Ave.
Brooklyn Public Library's central branch, designed as a book with flaps opening onto Prospect Park, boasts three stories of sun-filled reading rooms with lush views. Architects Alfred Morton Githens's and Francis Kelly's outstanding Art Deco structure opened in 1941, 29 years after the Depression stalled its groundbreaking and forced a cost-cutting redesign. Luxurious nonetheless, it boasts a 50-foot-high, concave portico façade with gold-leaf engravings of literary characters like Brer Rabbit and Natty Bumppo. It stands at the top of a limestone plaza, renovated in late 2007 to accommodate free, family-friendly concerts and café seating for wireless users. The same renovation introduced the 189-seat, basement-level Dweck Auditorium, which hosts international speakers, concerts, and other programs. More than 2 million people pilgrimage annually to the largest of the 60 BPL branches. Its impressive open foyer constantly buzzes with activity, and a day is easily spent amidst 1.5 million books and countless other items (like government documents, photographs, and other ephemera), plus rotating exhibits by local artists, and a cafeteria to boot.Brooklyn Collection
Opened in 2006 in a modern, streamlined space on the second-floor balcony, the library’s local-history division welcomes student groups, genealogists (it's local lore that one in six Americans can trace an ancestor back to Brooklyn), and general Brooklyn-philes, who peruse memorabilia like the entire archives of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and a Coney Island registry book signed by P. T. Barnum and Edgar Allen Poe. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are needed to access certain pieces, like Sanborn maps of the borough, and manuscript collections. Hours: Wed. and Sat., 1 p.m.5:30 p.m.; Thu., 1 p.m.7:30 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.1 p.m.; Sun.Mon, closed
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