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Central Library (Brooklyn Public Library)

The Central Library is the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, located at Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York City. It contains over a million cataloged books, magazines, and multimedia materials. Each year, over one million people visit the library.[2] The building is a designated New York City landmark.

Brooklyn Public Library-Central Building
Brooklyn Public Library - Central Library (48292030712).jpg
The Central Library in July 2019
Central Library (Brooklyn Public Library) is located in New York City
Central Library (Brooklyn Public Library)
LocationGrand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, New York City
Coordinates40°40′20″N 73°58′7″W / 40.67222°N 73.96861°W / 40.67222; -73.96861Coordinates: 40°40′20″N 73°58′7″W / 40.67222°N 73.96861°W / 40.67222; -73.96861
Area2.8 acres (1.1 ha)
ArchitectRaymond F. Almirall (1911); Alfred Morton Githens and Francis Keally (1935)
SculptorThomas Hudson Jones and C. Paul Jennewein (bronze gateway)
Architectural styleBeaux-Arts and Art Moderne
NRHP reference #01001446[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 11, 2002
Designated NYCL1997


The building, a city-designated landmark, contains the state-of-the art S. Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, a 189-seat auditorium that opened in 2007 and hosts lectures, readings, musical performances, and other events for people of all ages. The library's plaza, renovated during the construction of the Dweck Center, hosts concerts throughout the summer and has become a favorite outdoor destination for free wireless internet access.

The Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons opened in January, 2013.[3] The space offers an integrated venue for individual work, public classes, private events, and meetings.[2]

The Central Library's local history division, The Brooklyn Collection, holds over a million individual items including photographs, maps, manuscripts, Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia and other ephemeral items.


Bronze gateway to library. Designed and detailed by C. Paul Jennewein and Thomas Hudson Jones.

Ground was broken for a Brooklyn central library on Prospect Park Plaza (Grand Army Plaza) in 1912. The design of the original architect Raymond Almirall called for a domed, four-story Beaux Arts building, similar in style to the nearby Brooklyn Museum. Escalating costs and political in-fighting helped slow construction throughout the decade. World War I and the Great Depression ensured that Almirall's building, whose Flatbush Avenue wing had been completed by 1929, would never be built.

In the 1930s, the architects Githens and Keally were commissioned to redesign the building, eliminating all the expensive ornamentation and the entire fourth floor. After much public and critical praise for the comparatively inexpensive Art Deco structure, construction recommenced in 1938. Almirall's building on Flatbush Avenue was largely demolished except for the frame. (Some of the original facade that faces in toward the library's parking lot is still visible.) Completed by late 1940, the Central Library opened to the public on February 1, 1941. It is regarded today as one of America's greatest Art Deco buildings.

The second floor of the Central Library opened in 1955, nearly doubling the amount of space available to the public. Occupying over 350,000 square feet (33,000 m2) and employing 300 full-time staff members, the building serves as the administrative headquarters for the Brooklyn Public Library system. Prior to 1941 the Library's administrative offices were located in the Williamsburgh Savings Bank on Flatbush Avenue.[4]

The Central Library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.[1]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Brooklyn Public Library - Central Library". Brooklyn Public Library. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kathleen A. Howe (June 2001). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Brooklyn Public Library-Central Building". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-02-20. See also: "Accompanying 16 photos".

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