Friday, May 16, 2014

The Jefferson Market Library, Greenwich Village, New York



Can you believe this beautiful Victorian Gothic building located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, located at 425 Avenue of the Americas and 10th Street,  is a branch of the New York Public Library? (All photos in this post will enlarge, for easier viewing, if clicked on)

Placards on the outside wall of the building

The Jefferson Market Library has a long and varied history.  It was built in 1876 and served as both the Third Judicial District courthouse, and then solely as women's court until 1932.


The 172 foot high turret of the building has clocks on all four sides, and was used as fire watch tower, as it once towered over the Greenwich area as the neighborhood's highest edifice. The bell that summoned the firemen at the time still hangs in the tower. There were many high profile trials that took place here, including the trail of Harry Thaw in 1906, for the assassination of an acclaimed architect Stanford White. It was a highly salacious trail of passion of the time, which you can read about on this link, as well as more interesting history about the building.


By 1945, through redistricting, court was no longer held at Jefferson Market, and the building was used by various other agencies, including the police academy. The academy left in 1958, leaving the courthouse empty destined for demolition. A group of community preservationists encouraged public outcry, and led to its remodel and reuse as a branch of the New York Public Library. In 1961, the New York Public library agreed to the plan and architect Giorgio Cavaglieri was brought in to restore the exterior and redesign the building's interior for its new use.


The library opened in 1967, and the police court became the Children's Reading Room.


The Civil Court became the Adult Reading Room.


The building retains much of its interior architectural charm.


Some of the magnificent period stained glass windows throughout the library.



If you remember, if you read this post, e.e cumming is one of my favorite poets, and when I was high school  age I was thrilled to learn that he lived for forty years in a little row house in a blind alley across the street from the Jefferson Market, from 1923 until his death in 1962.  Cummings was one of the preservationists that worked hard to save the Jefferson Market and have it turned into a library, although he did not live to see it happen.


Whenever I visit Greenwich Village I try to make a visit to Cumming's former home, just for nostalgia's sake.  I wonder who lives there now?


If you believe in "orbs" then this photo of e.e.cummings former home shows that his spirit may live there still!



In fact, I found it a little eerie when just a few blocks away I saw this balloon delivery man walking down the street....


.....I blurred his face for privacy.  I could not help but think of e. e. cummings poem "In Just, " which you can read on this Poetry Foundation link.


It is wonderful to wander around the streets of Greenwich Village and see all of its eclectic architecture from different eras. 


I loved how the Vespa parked in front on this pink hued  house matched the house's turquoise blue shutters,and had a pink seat!



Also the vintage painted sign on the side of this building with its long ago exchange name telephone number!  I remember when my childhood telephone number began with "Hickory"!



I really enjoyed my re-visit to the Jefferson Market Library, as many years ago I worked at the nearby St.Vincent's Catholic Medical Center (now sadly closed), and very often on my lunch break I would visit this library to borrow a few books.

My stroll through Greenwich Village also brought back many memories. There is a timeless feel to much of this neighborhood, even if expensive condos, and big box and chain stores are slowly edging their way into it. Thankfully, there are still many independently owned and operated stores, bookstores, restaurants, cafes and boutiques still in business and it is a wonderful area to wander around and look for surprises. Perhaps on a visit you will also see a balloon man on a "mud-luscious, puddle wonderful" day?

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33 comments:

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

I love this post, Pat! It's also one of my favorite parts of the city, for all of the reasons you mention. I was just there on Wednesday and poked into the e.e. cummings mews for the first time ever! I knew it was in there but never went to the door itself. So fun to imagine the feet that have walked those stairs before me. Glad you got to visit your old 'stomping ground' on your trip back. :-)

Vee said...

Though I don't believe in orbs, I do believe in serendipity. What a fun visit for you! That's a beautiful library and mr.cummings lived in a charming home.

ellen b. said...

It sure would be fun to go on a tour of New York with you!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Thanks for posting this Pat. I always wondered about the history of that building since the first time I saw it. Greenwich Village is still one of the best neighborhoods in New York for getting lost in.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Such lovely architecture - I would have a hard time concentrating on reading. I would rather just look around :)
Sam

Sarah said...

Pat, I always enjoy touring NY with you. Used to love wandering the streets in the Village. Didn't know about cummings' home. Will need to add that to my NY list. '-)
Hope you have a terrific weekend.

Willow said...

Sometimes I get a bit confused :) Is that building in Colorado or New York?--Yes, I know where Greenwich Village is, but at first I had to figure out where the building was. It's beautiful and reminds me much of London and Oxford brick buildings.

Barb said...

I love sightseeing with you, Pat! That library is spectacular. I definitely think you channeled the spirit of Cummings...

The French Hutch said...

Hi Pat, I've certainly enjoyed touring NY with you. I know you must still miss this amazing city and love to visit when you can.
Such beautiful old buildings. I love the library with it's windows and clock tower.
Have a delightful weekend.

Michelle said...

I love seeing the architecture in NYC.

Lynn@Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

What a gorgeous building! My local library is more... utilitarian-looking:@)

Parsimonious Perfection said...

Such a beautiful building! I know you go to NYC often, I'd miss it too if I were from there. Thank you for sharing!!

AdriBarr said...

What a beautiful tour! I have never been to New York City. ( I know. Shocking, isn't it?) But this is the next best thing to being there. The library certainly is a glorious building. Thank you for the introduction!

diane b said...

What a lovely trip down memory lane. Bravo to the preservationists who made this happen. It is a beautiful building with great colour and shapes. The balloon man and the orb were certainly eerie events connected to your favourite poet.

podso said...

Pat a wonderful post about an amazing building. Loved seeing all the different architecture. It's so nice you are able to go back every so often.

Pondside said...

Such an interesting post Pat. I liked seeing ee cumming's house and the serendipity of the balloon man nearby. Do you find it hard to visit NYC, your home of so long?...or have Colorado and the joy of the grandchildren completely captured your heart? As we fret about selling our house I remember your posts from last year when you were in the same boat!

Ida said...

What a fabulous library. Loved the Stained Glass Windows.
I also like the (Ghost) advertising with the phone number. Ours was "Jackson"

SmilingSally said...

Hi Pat,

I am an avid reader, and I love libraries. This is an unusual one.

Poor e e cummings. He never did get us to ignore capital letters, but he sure tried.

Thanks for sharing.

Have a Happy Blue Monday!

Yvette said...

FABULOUS!! I never knew any of this, Pat, and I grew up in NYC, for heaven's sake! I'm verklempt. Ha. Thank you so much for these many wonderfully luscious photos of my hometown. How I miss living in the city, even now these many years later.

Hannah said...

It's great to tour Greenwich Village with you, very informative. I didn't get there at all on my 2 whirlwind trips to NYC, so much to see, so little time. What a fascinating library building.

Al said...

That is an impressive library, I'm glad they preserved it. I need to walk around Manhattan again soon.

Holly Myers said...

Another site to add to visit when in NYC> Great post with some history.

ladyfi said...

The library is just beautiful!

Jim said...

fantastic architecture

Fun60 said...

How wonderful that the building has been preserved. It is so beautiful especially those windows.

Gary Phillips said...

Another great tour!! Boom, Bobbi and Gary.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It's beautiful.

orchid Miyako said...

OMG; what a GORGEOUS tour of the New York(^_^)v I especially dream of visiting "Jefferson Market Library"♡♡♡

So sorry for my absence for your "OWT" post, I was a bit under the weather since Monday. But slowly getting better♪
Sending you Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

Tracy said...

BEAUTIFUL building! In some ways it sort of reminds me of St. Pancras in London! So wonderful to use this historic building as a library--very ambient as a library. So nice to go back to NYC with you, Pat. :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Cathy said...

What an interesting post, Pat. I haven't been to NY in years and you always make me want to go back for a visit. The architecture is beautiful and the history fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

We need to visit NYC. Lovely post, so many great things to see in the Village.

Shannon @saltlicklessons.com said...

Very cool. I will have to take time to make a good trip to NY some time. I'm glad you are able to go back to visit--must be nice. The library would be fantastic to wander around and I have to say, the thought of living in a famous person's home is kind of wild. How would you do it justice? I love the picture of the Vespa house too!

Donna at Donna's New Day said...

Such a beautiful library! I wouldn't be able to get any work done.