The architecture firm of Carrère and Hastings designed the Beaux Arts main branch of the New York Public Library, which opened in 1911 at 42nd St. and 5th Ave. in Midtown Manhattan. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
The building is officially the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, but it is more commonly known as the New York Public Library [as if it’s the only one] or just the Main Branch.
The building is constructed of Vermont marble and brick. When it was completed, this was the largest marble structure in the US and is widely regarded as the apex of Beaux Arts design.
Work on the ornate interior took 5 years, and 75 miles of shelves were installed to house the current and future collections. On opening day, the library housed more than 1,000,000 volumes.
Murals in the lobby in front of the Catalog Room:
The entrance portico features classical details rendered in marble:
John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings both studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and worked at the famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, before establishing their own firm in the same building. Carrère and Hastings designed commercial buildings, elaborate residences, and prominent public buildings in NYC, Washington DC, Toronto, and Havana, as well as in the European capitals of London, Paris and Rome.
In 1911, John Merven Carrère was killed in an automobile accident. Using the same firm name, Thomas Hastings continued on his own until his death in 1929.
The Main Branch is about to undergo a clever renovation and expansion designed by Foster + Partners [read more about it here, here and here]. Jeremiah Moss, one of my favorite bloggers, also recently weighed in with some criticism.